T-Mobile brings 'Data Stash' rollover data plan to prepaid customers

T-Mobile US (NYSE:TMUS) is bringing its rollover data program, which it calls "Data Stash," to its Simple Choice prepaid customers as of March 22. The offering has only available to T-Mobile's Simple Choice postpaid customers up until now.

"Every single one of our prepaid voice customers with a qualifying Simple Choice plan will start out with a Starter Stash with up to 10 GB of 4G LTE data," T-Mobile CMO Andrew Sherrard wrote in a company blog post. "And when that's all used up, they'll start rolling forward their unused data for use up to a full year.  Automatically...and at no extra charge."

When T-Mobile unveiled Data Stash, the carrier made it available to subscribers on an eligible postpaid Simple Choice plan who purchased at least 3 GB of LTE data for smartphones or at least 1 GB for tablets per month. The same conditions will apply for prepaid customers, a T-Mobile spokesman confirmed. 

Additionally, T-Mobile is giving every customer with Data Stash 10 GB of LTE data for free. T-Mobile has said that customers' data won't start carrying over until after the free 10 GB runs out. The offer will apply to prepaid customers now as well. The free 10 GB is available until Dec. 31, 2015. T-Mobile said customers will lose their unused data after one year from when it is deposited into their Data Stash.

According to Sherrard, 27 percent of T-Mobile customers with a Data Stash have already "dipped into their stash" and have used the feature since the program started in January.

In typical T-Mobile fashion, Sherrard dinged AT&T Mobility (NYSE: T) and Verizon Wireless (NYSE: VZ) for not following T-Mobile's lead. He wrote that the "old guard carriers are busy running away from it. And that's just baffling to me." He noted that it's "crystal clear" that consumers want rollover data and that "last year, wireless customers asked to keep their unused data more than 40,000 times--and that was just on Twitter alone."

Sherrard also wrote that it is "flat out wrong to repossess something your customers have already bought and paid for. That's like the gas station emptying unused gas from your car each month. You buy something, you should have a chance to use it. Period."

Further, Sherrard also knocked T-Mobile's rivals and said "we already drafted the blueprints for the industry to fix the problem the right way. They just have to follow instructions."

AT&T launched its own rollover data plan at the end of January, and is offering rollover data to all new and current customers on AT&T's Mobile Share Value shared data plans for free. AT&T currently has more than 50 million Mobile Share Value customers.

AT&T subscribers on those plans are able roll over their unused, shareable plan data in any given month and use it within the next month. Within a given month, customers will use their data plan allotment first, before they begin using Rollover Data. However, the unused data expires if it is not used within the next month.

"I'm looking for a serious response," Sherrard wrote. "AT&T's Data Rollover means they wait an extra 30 days to repossess your data. That is not a serious response--no matter how many billions they spend on TV ads about it."

Verizon is unlikely to join its rivals in offering a rollover data plan, according to Verizon Communications CFO Fran Shammo. "We're a leader, not a follower," he told CNET in a late January interview.

"So they're basically going to ignore their customers, fairness and common sense out of corporate pride?" Sherrard wrote. "I think Verizon has, remarkably, reached a new level of arrogance." 

Regional carrier C Spire Wireless actually kicked off the trend in November when it launched a rollover data offering. Under C Spire's plans, any unused data from the previous month is rolled over to the next month for sharing among all users up to the plan's included monthly data allotment. C Spire noted that unlike other carriers it does not force consumers to use up data in their existing plans before getting access to rollover data, and it does not eliminate any unused rollover data at the end of each month. Instead, rollover data can be accumulated, shared and used among all individuals on a plan up to the plan's included monthly data amount.

For more:
- see this T-Mobile post

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