T-Mobile held a press event in New York today to make three significant announcements;
A new program called "JUMP" (Just Upgrade My Phone) which lets post paid customers upgrade to a new phone every six months for the same phone prices that new or out of contract customers pay. The program costs $10/month, which includes phone insurance. When customers upgrade they have to trade in their old phones, which should mean a huge increase in the number of recent model refurbished phones available to anyone shopping for a T-Mobile compatible phone. JUMP will launch July 14. You will need to pay into JUMP for six months before you are eligible for your first upgrade
T-Mobile's announced that their LTE network now covers 157 million people in 116 markets. To see a list of the LTE markets, go to this page and click the "Check latest 4G LTE cities" link. The 157 million number came as shock to most observers as last year T-Mobile said they only expected to cover 100 million people by the middle of this year. Apparently the LTE rollout is going much faster than expected. The 157 million figure compares favorably with Sprint's LTE which currently only covers 100 million people. T-Mobile still has a way to go to match AT&T's 200 million and Verizon's 300 million person coverage.
T-Mobile's third announcement is the most interesting to value conscious customers, It's a new non-contract family plan option. Starting July 14, a credit check will no longer be required for customers who up sign up for one of TMO's post-paid non-contact Smart Plans. The SmartPlans are eligible for multiple line discounts.
T-Mobile's family plan option lets you add a second phone for $30 per month with the third, fourth and fifth phones only $10 extra per month each. All the phones get unlimited voice and messaging and their own 500 MB high speed data allowance. After 500 MB data speeds are throttled to a glacial 128 Kbps.
The high speed data allowance can be upgraded to 2 GB for $10 extra per phone per month. Unlimited data is available for an extra $20 per month per phone.
Post paid taxes and fees typically add between 10% and 35% plus about $1.50 per line to the monthly plan cost. The taxes and fees make the Smart Plans more expensive than prepaid for individual users. But with two or more phones the Smart Plan will often be less expensive.
Here's a table comparing the cost of prepaid with the Smart Plans for one to four phones and varying amounts of data. The prepaid prices don't include state sales taxes. If your state taxes prepaid airtime that could tilt the advantage toward the Smart Plan.
|Number of Phones||Data per phone||Smart Plan Pretax Cost||Smart Plan Taxes||Smart Plan Total Cost||Prepaid Monthly Cost|
|1||500 MB||$50||$6.50 - $19||$56.50 - $69||$50|
|2||500 MB||$80||$11 - $31||$91 - $111||$100|
|3||500 MB||$90||$13.50 - $36||$103.50 - $126||$150|
|4||500 MB||$100||$16 - $41||$116 - $141||$200|
|1||Unlimited||$70||$8.50 -$26||$78.50 - $96||$70|
|2||Unlimited||$120||$15 - $45||$135 - $165||$140|
|3||Unlimited||$150||$19.50 - $57||$169.50 - $207||$210|
|4||Unlimited||$180||$24 - $69||$204 - $249||$240|
Updated 07/11/2013: This post originally stated that a single 500 MB, 2 GB or unlimited high speed data allowance was shared by all phones on a family plans. This is incorrect. Each phone gets its own bucket of 500 MB of data before throttling with additional data available for $10 or $20 per month per phone.