Full iPhone support on T-Mobile’s network has been a long time in the making, and yesterday it became official when Apple and T-Mobile made a T-Mobile iPhone Carrier Bundle available. The update enables support for T-Mobile LTE’s network on the iPhone 5, and it also brings visual voicemail, along with full support for T-Mobile’s 4G network to a factory unlocked iPhone or an unlocked AT&T iPhone.
Since updating our unlocked iPhone 5 with the update, we have been testing the device with a new T-Mobile sim in Manhattan. We couldn’t wait to see just what kind of speeds we could get on an Apple device running on T-Mobille’s network these days. Unfortunately, T-Mobile has not yet rolled out their LTE network in New York City, but our iPhone 5 is still able to use data on T-Mobile’s 4G network. And the results? Well, the good news is that web surfing is acceptable, but still a lot slower than AT&T’s speedy LTE network in New York City. That said, T-Mobile’s 4G speeds here are probably adequate enough to entice many AT&T and Verizon customers to jump ship for T-Mobile’s new more affordable, contract-free plans. And either way, T-Mobile promises that they are working to aggressively roll out LTE around the country through-out 2013.
I used to be a T-Mobile customer. Back in the day, I even used an unlocked and jail broken 1st gen iPhone on their Edge network. But eventually I moved over to AT&T for the iPhone 3G. I’ve been mostly happy with AT&T these past few years. Coverage in New York has gotten more and more reliable, and so has customer service. Their LTE network is also really fast. Plus, I do appreciate AT&T’s vast selection of the hottest phones. But my wallet was crying when T-Mobiles new rate “Uncarrier” plans were announced. So T-Mobile’s new Simple Choice contract-free pricing plans, combined with their official support for the iPhone, and their up and coming LTE network build-out, has all contributed to my consideration to jump ship.
That said, there is no question about it, T-Mobile has a long way to go till they can compete with AT&T and Verizon for LTE coverage, and even 3G coverage. Heck, T-Mobile still operates with Edge in too many areas. So for many folks outside of urban areas, it might not be right to jump ship at all – or at-least not yet. But if you’re in a city with good T-Mobile 4G or LTE coverage, it’s hard not to justify the move. Personally, I would be saving so much money over my AT&T plan, that I’m even considering breaking my AT&T contract.
My only real regret is losing out on the convenience of AT&T’s international data plans. But that is not enough to justify a monthly bill that on average costs me $140-160 with taxes and fees, especially when I can get a similar package for $60 flat at T-Mobile. Besides, T-Mobile’s new rate plans are easy to understand and affordable with no bull $~!# fees, and that is enough to make one forget about LTE altogether.
If you take a look around at the prepaid plans out there, companies like Straight Talk and Virgin Mobile are offering cheap unlimited plans that easily beat the prices of the big 4 wireless carriers, all sans contract. So it’s way past time that the industry moved to a more straightforward rate plan model. Getting locked down into a contract with more expensive rate plans and fees just doesn’t make sense anymore. And heck, just yesterday Virgin Mobile announced that they will offer T-Mobile customers $100 for switching over to them. So there is no question that the prepaid competition is going to get more and more intense.
In an ideal world, contracts should not exist, and unlimited should be the standard. In an ideal world, consumers should be able to make a decision on which carrier to use based on coverage, data network reliability, and customer service reputation.
Last year in Israel, a new MNVO, Golan Telecom, came in and created a revolution in the wireless industry there by offering an all you can eat unlimited everything plan for 99 shekels (about $27USD). Shortly after, other carriers started following suit, as they were pretty much forced to offer similar packages to stay competitive. And like in Israel with Golan Telecom, we think that T-Mobile might just be the dark knight to shake up things here too.