T-Mobile USA gets aggressive with HSPA+ devices, pricing

T-Mobile USA is gearing up to introduce the newest version of its T-Mobile Jet USB modem, which supports the faster HSPA+ data speeds that the operator has been deploying nationwide. According to TmoNews, the device will come to market March 23.

The news dovetails with T-Mobile's introduction of an aggressive mobile data pricing plan for laptops on its HSPA+ network called the 10 GB webConnect plan that costs $85 per month and requires a two-year contract.

Existing voice subscribers will receive a 20 percent discount on the new data plan, paying $68 per month. A T-Mobile spokeswoman told sister publication FierceWireless that existing T-Mobile customers have been receiving the discounted rate of 20 percent off when they sign up for a mobile broadband plan as part of a limited-time promotional offer.

The kicker to the plan is that T-Mobile won't charge subscribers extra fees if they go over their 10 GB allotment but the carrier will throttle data speeds until the next billing cycle.

In comparison, Verizon Wireless (NYSE:VZ) charges $80 for 10 GB of data on both its EV-DO and LTE networks, with a $10/GB overage charge. AT&T Mobility (NYSE:T) charges $60 for 5 GB of data for its 3G Laptop Connect Cards, with a $0.05/MB overage charge. Sprint (NYSE:S)  also charges $60 for 5 GB on its EV-DO mobile broadband plan, with a $0.05/MB overage charge. However, Sprint's 4G service, which runs on Clearwire's (NASDAQ:CLWR) mobile WiMAX network, has no cap. Clearwire has indicated, however, that it throttles data speeds when subscribers consume too much during peak traffic hours.

The 10 GB plan costs $85 per month and needs to be paired with a two-year contract. The nation's No. 4 carrier said that if customers go over 10 GB, their data speeds will be slowed down until their next billing cycle. T-Mobile dropped is data cap and instead instituted data throttling last year on its 5 GB plan, which costs $50. The company also offers a 200 MB webConnect plan, which has overages of $0.10 per MB of data.

Current Analysis analyst Deepa Karthikeyan noted that 10 GB is now the new norm in the mobile broadband market. "T-Mobile's recent initiative reinforces the fact that the 10 GB broadband plan is now the new 5 GB plan (in terms of being the highest data access plan offering from a carrier)," Karthikeyan wrote in a research note.

"Considering the emergence and success of data-centric devices such as tablets and hotspot devices in the consumer space, on top of the overall success of mobile broadband services in general, carriers are realizing that the old 5 GB data access plan will just not cut it anymore. However as the omnipresent issue of network performance looms, carriers will have to continue to seek effective measures to control data usage (either via throttling or overages) to ensure optimal user experience," said Karthikeyan.

For more:
- read this TmoNews article
- see this FierceWireless article
- take a look at this T-Mobile page
- check out this T-Mobile page with more details

Related articles:
T-Mobile's Ray discusses HSPA+ 42, spectrum refarming and backhaul deployment
AT&T details HSPA+ markets with enhanced backhaul on its coverage map
Tests show T-Mobile HSPA+ upgrades increase average smartphone speeds