Rumor Mill: T-Mobile to launch $10 smartphone data plan

T-Mobile USA soon will introduce a $10 per month smartphone data plan for light data users, according to the blog TMoNews--an action that would underscore a growing push among U.S. operators for tiered data pricing.

According to the blog, which cited unnamed sources, the nation's No. 4 carrier will begin offering the new option to postpaid smartphone customers in late November. Subscribers will be able to get 200 MB of data for $10 per month. The plan would undercut AT&T Mobility's (NYSE:T) DataPlus plan by $5. Importantly, the blog said, T-Mobile will continue offering its $30 plan for unlimited data.

A T-Mobile spokeswoman declined to comment.

The rumor comes on the heels of T-Mobile's recent revamp of its prepaid data plans. The carrier, which has long dabbled in the prepaid market, announced data pricing ranging from $70 per month for 2 GB of data to $30 per month for a 1,500 Talk and Text plan (customers can mix and match voice minutes and text messages) with 30 MB of data. The carrier also will offer unlimited text messaging and voice at 10 cents per minute, as well as a $1.49 day pass for mobile Web access. T-Mobile's decision to offer prepaid data packages for smartphones follows a similar move Verizon Wireless (NYSE:VZ) made in September.

Additionally, T-Mobile--which has been steadily building outs its HSPA+ footprint this year--said it will offer a range of prepaid mobile broadband plans, including a $10 weekly pass for 100 MB of data, a $30 monthly pass for 300 MB of data and a $50 monthly pass for 1 GB of data.

Current Analysis analyst Deepa Karthikeyan took a negative view of T-Mobile's new mobile broadband plans, arguing in a recent research note that "while it completes the carrier's webConnect offering, the plans are not groundbreaking from a feature or price perspective."

"While they do offer additional perks in the form of a wider device portfolio compared to competitors, the fact remains that from a pure price and services aspect, T-Mobile brings nothing new to the table," Karthikeyan wrote. "This launch is unlikely to cause any movement in the industry. Tier 1 competitors such as Verizon Wireless will claim to have a more reliable network, while other prepaid carriers such as Virgin Mobile will pull out the value card when pitted against T-Mobile."

Indeed, numerous other carriers, including Verizon, AT&T Mobility (NYSE:T), Leap Wireless (NASDAQ:LEAP) and Sprint Nextel's (NYSE:S) Virgin Mobile, offer tiered, prepaid mobile broadband. 

For more:
- see this TMoNews post

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Correction, Oct. 18, 2010: This article incorrectly stated in one instance that T-Mobile's rumored data plan would be $20 per month instead of $10 per month.