T-Mobile introduces monthly payment plan for phones

T-Mobile USA announced a new plan for customers to purchase mobile phones on a monthly installment plan, a further sign that wireless companies are altering their business models in the face of the economic recession.

T-Mobile's plan, called the  Equipment Installment Plan, sets up an "Equipment Credit Line" for qualified customers, presumably with sound credit, that customers can use to buy phones and equipment through four monthly installment payments.

"I wanted to give you a heads up about a unique offering from T-Mobile USA," said T-Mobile spokeswoman Shelby Finn. "We have recently launched our Equipment Installment Plan, which enables qualified customers (current or new) to pay for handsets and accessories over four monthly installment payments. This plan will provide more flexibility for customers when choosing a new handset." As part of the plan, there  are no additional interest charges, finance charges or start-up fees for customers who decide to opt into the plan. 

The move follows T-Mobile's decision in December to cancel its handset upgrade fees. The decision also comes as T-Mobile's subscriber growth slowed in the fourth quarter in the face of increased competition as well as higher contract churn, and could be designed as a scheme to get customers to re-sign their service contracts.   

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