Home - , , - T-Mobile Recovering Un-carrier Costs From Prepaid Users?

T-Mobile Recovering Un-carrier Costs From Prepaid Users?

T-Mobile has apparently been so successful at adding new customers that they've starting to ratchet back some of the promotional deals they have been using to lure those new subscribers. Three recent changes have made things more expensive for customers of T-Mobile prepaid brands. 

Last Sunday T-Mobile raised the price of prepaid SIMs from $10 to $15. I don't know what SIMs cost the carriers but I'm pretty sure it's a lot less than $15. Many operators sell SIMs for a dollar or two or even give them away to make it easy for customers to switch to their service. In fact, T-Mobile has been putting their prepaid SIMs on sale on their website for a penny or a buck for about a week out of every month all year long. Maybe they will continue that practice. If they don't or if you can wait, Amazon and eBay sellers have T-Mobile prepaid SIM kits for around $8 each.

On Nov. 1, T-Mobile's  GoSmart's prepaid brand launched a double data promotion that gave every GoSmart customer twice as much data for the same price. Sounds good, but it's going away soon. This week GoSmart quietly modified their Rate Plans description page to say that the promo will end Feb. 1. This isn't a huge surprise, as the double data was always billed as a "limited time offer" However,  two of GoSmart competitors, Sprint's Boost Mobile and AT&T's Cricket Wireless also doubled their plan's data this fall and don't seem to have any plans to roll back the change. Boost even says their double data is a "permanent" change, whatever that means. Cricket says theirs is temporary but that any customer who gets double data now is grandfathered and gets to keep it when the promo ends. You'd think GoSmart would do the same for competitive reasons, but their terms change makes it clear that aren't saying; "starting February 2, 2015, all data plans will revert back to their full, original high-speed data allocation". So no grandfathering and that's going to mean some unhappy customers I suspect.

The third negative pricing change is less of a surprise but seems to be mishandled. For 2014, T-Mobile cut the prices of their  $20, $30 and $40 mobile broadband plans by $10. Those prices were advertised as good all year "Through 2014 save $10 on our 1 GB, 3 GB, and 5 GB monthly passes." (see it in the Internet Archive). However the prices of those plans on the T-Mobile website went up a month early on Dec. 1. It seems rather dishonest of T-Mobile to end the promo earlier than advertised.

I suspect T-Mobile is trying to get a small portion of the millions spent on its many "un-carrier" promotions to designed to lure new (mainly postpaid) customers, like  paying off early termination fees, unlimited free music streaming and free international data roaming, It does seem a little unfair that prepaid customers, who didn't get most of the un-carrier benefits, seem to be paying for them with this month's round of price increases and rollbacks.

Sources: T-Mobile, GoSmart via PhoneNews.com

43 comments:

Comment Page :
  1. just ordered sim from best buy for $5 I was looking for a discounted 0.99 but no luck. I also think the realized people port to tmoble to port and get line credits

    ReplyDelete
  2. Sometimes you can get the TM sim for free at a corp. TM store. Especially if you're signing up.

    S

    ReplyDelete
  3. has anyone signed up for $3 monthly plan? it is 30 minutes or 30 texts I was thinking of porting to this plan and than to cricket

    ReplyDelete
  4. I am using the Tmob$3 plan now. Am using it as I finish all my Legacy plans. All those $10 pins now return 100 minutes, not 30!

    ReplyDelete
  5. I hope that T-Mobile plans to keep their MetroPCS offerings intact. GoSmart was really intended to be for the very budget conscious user.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. The $60 Metro plan is interesting. But whats the difference between that and the $80 T-Mobile prepaid plan? GoSmart is excellent for those who don't mind 3G speeds.

      Delete
    2. Metro has no roaming and intl text is extra

      Delete
    3. MetroPCS has the same domestic voice and text roaming as T-Mobile Prepaid. Unlike T-Mobile Prepaid, international texting, Music Freedom and tethering/htspot are not included with MetroPCS

      Delete
  6. Tmobile gained customers but no cash. Terrible revenue per customer. Something has got to give.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. This is false. You just made it up, right? Here are the facts:

      For 1Q-3Q, year 2014 over year 2013, in $M:
      1. Service revenue up to 16,505 from 13,899
      2. Total revenue up to 21,410 from 17,593
      3. Adjusted EBITDA up to 3,885 from 3,646
      4. Net income up to 146M from 55M

      5. Branded postpaid phone ARPU down from $53.70 to $49.87
      6. Branded postpaid phone ARBU up to $60.34 from $58.38
      7. Branded prepaid ARPU up to $36.96 from $34.02
      8. Smartphone sales (M) up to 20 from 12.1
      9. Smartphone sales/all phone sales up to 92% from 85%

      10. EIP financed ($M) up to 3,908 from 2,120
      11. EIP billings ($M) up to 2,434 from 943
      12. EIP receivables ($M) up to 3,963 from 1,867

      This is not a company in financial trouble. TMUS is growing fast, and every new customer is profitable. Only #5 went down, yet there were an extra 2.5M customers added during 2014, compared to the same period in 2013 (3.6M vs 1.1M adds), so LOTS more total revenue coming in. TMUS needs the extra customers to have the scale to operate efficiently and grow the network. Go ahead, cherry-pick some figures showing they are no Verizon or AT&T. But TMUS is doing things right.

      Delete
    2. " Go ahead, cherry-pick some figures showing they are no Verizon or AT&T. "

      One does not need to cherry-pick to find out that they are no Verizon or AT&T. But TMUS is a Sprint. Terrible coverage.

      Delete
    3. T-Mobile is growing subscribers and revenue faster than AT&T and Verizon are growing, while keeping churn very low. And your tired, old, fuddy coverage argument is irrelevant for most people: 280M of them on HSPA+; 300M in 2015. >250M on LTE now.

      Delete
    4. "T-Mobile is growing subscribers"

      But the very relevant fact is that their coverage IS terrible compared to Verizon and ATT. TMUS covers half of what those two carry. That is a very important fact, and it is not "tired and fuddy duddy". It does need to be pointed out, though it's clear from your slick ad copy you would prefer no-one knew. Ad copy which contains nothing at all about the problem with TMUS that makes it an also-ran: improving coverage..

      Indeed, the only company that would make the claim that coverage doesn't matter is the company with terrible coverage.

      Delete
    5. I think by now everyone reading this blog is aware that:
      1) T-Mobile is gaining subscribers faster percentage-wise than Verizon and AT&T
      2) Verizon and AT&T cover more square miles than T-Mobile.
      One doesn't negate the other, they are unrelated statistics.

      Delete
    6. (1) has absolutely nothing to do with the user experience. And (2) is very important to prepaid users, despite the evasion of the TMUS "cherry pick" PR flack who never mentions this alongside the "churn" and his claim of 280 million TMobile HSPA+ subscribers. (1) is important to investors and advertisers, but has nothing at all to do with the prepaid user experience.

      We really need to know three things: how much does it cost, where does it cover, and how fast is it. Slick ad copy that leaves one of these out in favor of churning stats is an attempt to hide important information from the consumers.

      I would really welcome meaningful contributions from the TMUS PR flacks with concrete information about TMUS actually expanding its coverage, with TM towers where they never were before.

      I was nearly fooled myself by intentionally deceptive ad copy from TMUS that masked the not-ready-for-prime time miserable coverage information. Of course I'd like to see no one fooled by this, but better yet, I'd like to see TMUS show real improvement in this area, or at least show some sort of plan to catch up to ATT and Verizon... which TMUS is way way behind.

      Delete
    7. I'd be curious to know where the churn guy gets his information on T-Mobile having 300 million subscribers.

      The latest information I can find shows them with 50 million. That's compared to 117 million for ATT. Though Dennis might be correct that the subscriber stat is unrelated to the coverage stat, the percent difference between TMobile's and ATT's subscribers is similar to the difference between their coverage areas.

      Regardless, this shows that, despite the misleading churning stats, T-Mobile is way way behind on the meaningless "subscriber total" front also.

      Delete
    8. Mr. Paul at geekwire provides a clear-headed look at the reality of T-Mobile, while including proper optimism where it is due. As he focuses on what is important to users, there's no mention of 'churn'.

      "

      As a new T-Mobile user broken free from Verizon slavery: I love his enthusiasm, direction, and all he's done for the industry and what he's doing to forcing others to finally compete and offer humane, non-contract plans.

      But unfortunately, the coverage outside of select metro areas, is complete garbage, and I mean BAD. Sure you can text and call, but otherwise good luck getting more than 0.5-2 mbps up/down almost everywhere outside of the DIRECT suburbs of cities, IF that.

      Until that improves, I'm going to have to take a few month AT&T vacation so I can actually USE my phone without worrying which place or area has WiFi. Maybe in Un-Carrier 8.0 "we're actually competing with Verizon and AT&T's coverage and speeds outside of metro areas and it will ACTUALLY be LTE, not fake 4G with 2G speeds or 2G that doesn't connect!! An added bonus, we're finally done with this whole "late 2014 to mid 2015 upgrading towers" thing and excuse!!!!!!"

      I'm looking forward in 2-3 years when I can use T-Mobile with confidence, and laugh at every Verizon and Sprint user's face and how they pay 10-15 dollars more a month.

      But until that happens, sorry; in areas like mine, AT&T is where it's at, and every coverage map proves it."
      ---------------------------------

      All this is good to remember.

      Delete
    9. The fanboyism of these carriers are getting out of control. Been a T-Mobile subscriber off and on for over a decade and even I know their coverage inside buildings and outside the city is absolute garbage!! Nor do they hold a candle to Verizon or AT&T. I know T-Mobile fans are more vocal in forums and will defend and debate til the end. But I think it's just silly. Carriers could care less about you. Including T-Mobile.

      Delete
    10. 312City: TMUS has a charismatic face, a go-getter entrepreneur who puts himself out in front of the camera with a PT Barnum-like gift for a slick sell. None of the other carriers have this, not even close. The pie-in-the-sky promises, like covering as much territory as ATT/VRZ by the middle of 2015 sound good coming from his mouth, but out on the ground, there's no more steel sticking up into the air.

      "I know T-Mobile fans are more vocal in forums and will defend and debate til the end"

      They are like Sprint fans. Because once you strip away the fluff and PR and "image", there's really little difference between having a phone on either network. But what makes Sprint difference is that they have a bumbling "Softbank" as the face of the company, instead of a smiling CEO. So, yes. you get a lot less fanboy zeal from Sprint users. You will get a mindless TMUS fanboy trying to convince people that "churn" is a good reason to get the T-Mobile religion. But Sprint users don't have such preachers.

      "Carriers could care less about you. Including T-Mobile. "

      The difference between Legere at TMUS and the faceless suits at Softbank who control Sprint is that Legere MAKES people believe he cares. The Softbank suits have done a terrible job at this. But yes, it is as you say, they both could care less.

      Delete
  7. Interesting read. Thank you for posting! On the $30 5GB/100min for a few years now. Excellent plan for introverts like myself. However I would like the Music Freedom benefits and more hotspot usage.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I thought the $30 included music, I read that it did, and the Hotspot is $15 a month for your plan, but ya I have the anti -social $30 myself.

      Delete
    2. Yeah I have used the ripoff $15 hotspot add-on at times when I travel, but they include 100mb free which is nothing. And I used Beats Music and iHeartRadio a lot and it uses my LTE data. I know Beats isn't supported by MF yet, but I even recently tried Google Music free trial which is supported and it also used my data.

      Delete
    3. Music Freedom is only included with $50 and higher T-Mobile prepaid plans

      Delete
  8. I have my daughter on $30 plan music freedom is included. She streams music all day . it states on T-Mobile all prepaid plans have music freedom. And I can confirm she has them all and music don't count on gigs used.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I thought so, I am not sure which page on T-mobile's list of plans the $30 plan had a checkbox next "music freedom".

      Delete
    2. I'm glad at least one person is getting Music Freedom on the $30 plan. However that may be a fluke as both T-Mobile's Prepaid Plans Page:
      http://prepaid-phones.t-mobile.com/prepaid-monthly-plans
      And answers by T-Mobile reps in this T-Mobile Support Forum thread:
      https://support.t-mobile.com/thread/82511
      say that it's only included with plans priced at $50 or higher.

      Delete
  9. I have the $30, 100 minutes talk T-Mobile prepaid plan and have run thru my minutes. I had thought that Google Voice or Google Hangouts could be used for free additional minutes but found that I was still using my T-Mobile plan minutes. Have I mis-understood or am I not doing things correctly? Is there such a thing as free voice calling?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. You have to use the app to call, not the phone dialer.

      Delete
    2. To make calls with Hangouts on Android using WiFi or data you need to install the Hangouts Dialer app in addition to the Hangouts app. On iOS you just need the Hangouts app. Place calls using the Hangouts Dialer (Android) or Hangouts (iOS) to use WiFi/Data, not minutes.

      Calls placed eith the Google Voice app or the phone dialer always use cellular minutes.

      Delete
  10. Thank you for clearing that up.
    I am using an iPhone. Do I need to disable cellular data or does it use wifi automatically when placing outgoing calls? What about incoming calls? I have a google phone number but found that when friends used it I was still using plan minutes.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. When WiFi is connected the iPhone will use WiFi for everything requiring data rather than operator data.

      If you set Google Voice to forward calls to your mobile number, incoming calls will use minutes. The setting is on the Google Voice website.

      To use Hangouts to receive calls, disable Google Voice calling and enable incoming calls in the Hangouts app following the directions on this page: https://support.google.com/hangouts/answer/3438876?hl=en

      Delete
  11. Skype $3/mo Unlimited option is there for those who prefer their mobile # as their Caller ID and not a Google number. I find it to be the most consistent VOIP app so far. However, VOIP calls are still nowhere near reliable for me. So I find myself refilling $10 T-Mobile pins on CallingMart once or twice a month.

    ReplyDelete
  12. Calling these changes 'unfair' is pretty useless when you're not specifically barred from taking advantage of actual T-Mobile "Uncarrier" plans yourselves. How many times do are most users needing to buy a new SIM? Changing (or chasing) into new plans month to month? Not that many.

    It's not a complaint made of an actual disservice for users, but the small community of "prepaid phone nerds" who think there oughta be a law preserving their precious $12 Page Plus plan.

    ReplyDelete
  13. Nobody likes new charges and fees, but in this competitive market, companies have to find ways to make money. I don't mind one-time fees as much as monthly taxes and fees. And some companies like Chit-Chat and Cricket seem to have a fee for everything. T-Mobile prepaid has in the past charged minimal amounts for SIMs, so this does stick out. But raising prices so you can have more sales to draw in new customers is a time-honored retailing custom, nothing new. As for prepaid subsidizing postpaid, this is just speculation. I think that is unlikely, given the way the two divisions operate separately.
    BTW, several other companies charge a lot for SIMs, E.G., H2O ($15 for nano-SIMs), TracFone companies (varies), Cricket ($10) and Tru ($30 with $15 service credit). Some PagePlus dealers had the nerve to charge $25 for LTE sims.

    ReplyDelete
  14. "Nobody likes new charges and fees, but in this competitive market, companies have to find ways to make money."

    The parent companies are making money hand over fist, charging people twice what they should for their data and mobile plans. Unless it is truly a small wildcat startup MNVO, chances are they are clobbering you with high charges just because they can get away with it. This goes for Cricket (part of ATT), the Movil companies, and others of that ilk.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. "charging people twice what they should for their data and mobile plans."
      If you get in the business of telling companies what their "fair prices" should be, like the government regulated in the old "Ma Bell" days, don't be naive and think that service and choices won't suffer. I will take choice and competitive market prices to price controls any day.

      Delete
    2. " don't be naive and think that service and choices won't suffer."

      I'm not naive. The opposite, in fact. I talk to my friends "across the pond", even all the way into Russia, and they have a lot more competition and choices... and the mobile services cost half as much.

      "I will take choice and competitive market prices to price controls any day. "

      Why must it be either or? Much of the rest of the world has more choice, a more competitive market, and much lower prices. Why not look instead toward the situations that create a sort of oligarchy here and allow price setting and prevent real competition?

      Delete
    3. "Why not look instead toward the situations that create a sort of oligarchy here and allow price setting and prevent real competition?"
      Now you are thinking, instead of just complaining. Europe has much higher population density and the EU mandates GSM service. It is much less expensive to build, maintain and upgrade a network in these conditions, despite the high regulatory compliance costs. Even so, EU is behind the US in widespread LTE coverage. The US is a very big country. T-Mobile owns over 60,000 towers, more than Verizon or AT&T. That costs a lot of money, which has to come from somewhere. You have to buy spectrum at high prices to cover all that territory. How are you going to pay for the infrastructure and spectrum? Or are you going to starve tech upgrades? We can't make all US citizens move to urban areas. Face it, only very large, well-funded companies can afford to build and operate nationwide networks in the US. Why do you think there has been so much consolidation of carriers? It is the only way the vast majority can survive and compete in the long term.

      Delete
  15. This excuse has been passed around... the size of the US.... but it does not add up. Looking at other large countries... the largest ones on earth... including two that have a lot more territory than the US... the rates in the US are still higher than for all of these countries.

    ReplyDelete
  16. Walmart is selling $30 in airtime with a free SIM activation kit.
    http://www.walmart.com/ip/T-Mobile-Complete-SIM-Kit/39081494?action=product_interest&action_type=title&placement_id=irs_bottom&strategy=SMT&visitor_id=97670760925&category=0%3A1105910%3A1072335%3A1097404&client_guid=a40ea074-594e-4f1e-96e9-298ae3702ab9&config_id=0&parent_item_id=35119960&guid=e0b253d1-5155-4722-99fb-954040e40983&bucket_id=irsbucketdefault&findingMethod=p13n

    ReplyDelete
  17. I didn't even mention Sprint. Not sure what Sprint gotta do with my comment. You singled out Sprint execs as if they no different from Verizon or AT&T execs who are not loud, proud, and on front street as Legere. No one is denying the excitement of T-Mobile right now. But the coverage still sucks in buildings, underground, and outside the city. You have no argument against that. No one does. It's a fact!

    As far as Sprint fans not having vocal enough internet nerds... like for what reason? What will that accomplish? If consumers are smart, they will research and go with the carrier that works well for them in their area and not just fall for the advertised coverage maps.. nor will they go with a carrier just because a community of certain users say its the best. The Sprint vs T-Mobile argument is like 2 fat girls fighting: Who cares? They both suck when you think about it. Just on different levels. T-Mobile fanboys act like Sprint is the enemy or something and worry about Sprint more than Sprint users lol, pathetic!

    With that said, T-Mobile (prepaid specifically) will always be the carrier I refer to people who spends most of their time in the city and also prefer no contract and using unlocked phones such as myself.

    ReplyDelete
  18. If you really think about it and look at the facts ALL carriers have there positive and negatives. I have worked for them all and l can tell you good and bad about them ALL....and specifically things that make no sense. Its retail competition, they all have to make themselves look better than another carrier when there pretty much all the same. The most important part is if the plan and coverage fits your lifestyle. I personally use t-mobile and it works perfectly great for me even when l travel from FLA to NJ....also the sims are $15 for post-paid & pre-paid.

    ReplyDelete
  19. "But the coverage still sucks in buildings, underground, and outside the city. You have no argument against that. No one does. It's a fact!"

    So what you are telling us, 312City, is that T-MOBILE is great if you are driving in town or sitting on the porch. But don't go indoors, and don't leave town.

    Wow, I can see why the vast majority prefer a real carrier without such limitations instead of this "uncarrier".

    ReplyDelete
Comment Page :