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Brier Dudley offers a critical look at technology and business issues affecting the Northwest.

May 23, 2011 at 10:48 AM

Wireless update: T-Mobile drops unlimited data, LTE in Spokane

T-Mobile USA is dropping its unlimited 3G/4G data service, replacing it with a tiered pricing system.

The company simultaneously announced new plans that it’s saying are unlimited with no overage fees. That sounds compelling, but it’s a little misleading.

Customers will pay for a finite, limited amount of data transferred at regular speed on its 3G/4G network. After that monthly allocation is used up, the data transfers are throttled down to a slow speed — 2G — for the rest of the month.

A spokeswoman said it’s not really a change: “The previous $30 unlimited plan reduced speeds if the customer reached 5 GB of data in a billing month so the plan is technically the same, just a new name.”

T-Mobile is offering these “unlimited” plans with monthly allocations of 200 megabytes, 2 gigabytes, 5 GB or 10 GB at 4G speeds.

The new rate plans “put us in an excellent position to capitalize on the 80 percent of wireless customers in America who want smartphones,” Cole Brodman, chief marketing officer, said in a release. “We’re providing customers with the 4G coverage they need, an exciting portfolio of 4G smartphones, and the value and flexibility to meet the diverse desires of their entire family.”

Meanwhile, Verizon Wireless today announced that it’s launching 4G LTE service in Spokane on June 16.

Since it began offering LTE service in December, Verizon has extended it to 55 areas — including Seattle — and plans to have LTE available throughout its current, 3G service area by the end of 2013.

Verizon charges $20 to $80 per month for LTE data plans that range from 1 to 10 gigabytes per month. After the limit is exceeded, it charges $10 to $20 per gigabyte, depending on the plan.

Comments | Topics: 4G, Broadband, Phones

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