T-Mobile USA tweaked the prices and stipulations for its data and messaging offerings, moves that research and consulting firm Current Analysis said reflect the No. 4 carrier's continued efforts to move away from its positioning as the nation's "value" operator.
According to Current Analysis, T-Mobile made a number of relatively minor but still notable changes to the prices for its data and messaging services. Among the changes:
- The carrier removed the 5 MB cap on its $10 per month data plan for feature phones, but also removed the 200 messages that were bundled with it. The carrier also removed the 100 MB cap from its $20 per month data and messaging plan.
- The carrier increased the cost of its Unlimited Family Messaging plan to $25 per month (from $20) and decreased the number of messages available through its $5 messaging offering (from 400 to 300).
- The carrier removed the 400 messages bundle from its $25 per month Unlimited Web plan for smartphones.
- Finally--and perhaps most notably--T-Mobile now requires its smartphone customers, including those with Sidekicks, BlackBerries and the like, to sign up for a data plan when under contract.
Although the changes seem relatively minor when compared with the launch of a slick new device, for example, Current Analysis' Deepa Karthikeyan pointed out that the tweaks highlight two important trends at the operator: First, that T-Mobile is making a break from the "value game" by raising some prices to match those of some of its competitors; and that T-Mobile is working hard to increase the revenues it gets from data. "The mandatory data plan requirements for all-in-one devices can be attributed to its recent 3G expansion and an effort to increase guaranteed data revenue (and data ARPU) as it tries to catch up to rivals," Karthikeyan wrote in a research note. "The urgency is real, as T-Mobile's data ARPU only accounts for 20 percent of its overall ARPU, while competitors hover at 28 percent."
A T-Mobile spokesperson confirmed the pricing changes. "T-Mobile is dedicated to providing the best experience in wireless to our customers by providing them with the best device and service to fit their needs," the spokesperson said. "We're improving and simplifying the terms of our data plans by removing the megabyte limits while maintaining the same pricing options. And while the price of our unlimited messaging for families bundle is increasing from $19.95 to $24.95, this bundle covers up to five phone lines and remains a great value for customers."
After trailing its rivals on the 3G and smartphone front, T-Mobile has kicked its efforts into high gear over the past year or so. The carrier flipped the switch on its 3G network last year, and has added several high-profile devices to its lineup, including the Android G1 and the BlackBerry 8900.
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