T-Mobile CEO Tries To Explain $15/Month Price Hike For Unlimited Plan

One of Legere's 9 Tweets from last night in response to questions about T-Mobile's new Simple Choice Amped plans.

One of Legere’s 9 Tweets from last night in response to questions about T-Mobile’s new Simple Choice Amped plans.

While T-Mobile’s event-friendly news from Tuesday’s press conference was that the company was exempting a number of streaming video services from data caps, what wasn’t so loudly announced was T-Mo’s price hike for its unlimited data plan — from $80/month to $95/month for new customers.

The price change won’t immediately effect current T-Mobile Simple Choice unlimited customers, whose rates are already locked in for two years. But starting on Sunday, Nov. 15, the new “Simple Choice Amped” unlimited plan will run $95 for a single device, up $15 from the current rate.

[NOTE: The $15/month increase only affects customers on single-device plans. For T-Mobile customers on shared data plans (2 or more phones), the rate remains the same as before.]

Given that T-Mobile has made affordability a point of pride in recent years — and the fact that Sprint offers an unlimited plan for $70 (and that “unlimited-in-name-only” plan for $40) — this seems like a bit of a step backward for the “Un-Carrier.”

In a series of nine (9) Tweets posted late Wednesday night, T-Mobile CEO John Legere explained what sees as the benefits of the new Amped plans, and to justify the change in price, effectively claiming that customers are being charged more because they are getting more.

To decode that Tweet, Legere is explaining that unlimited customers, who currently have access to 7GB of data tethering a month for when they need to use their T-Mobile device to connect their computer or other item to the Internet, will have 14GB/month of tethering if/when they switch to Amped unlimited.

For people who tether — this is especially true for business travelers who always need Internet access but can’t risk joining sketchy public WiFi hotspots — this could be of interest. But if you’re not using your wireless device to tether (which most consumers don’t), this change alone doesn’t really justify paying $15/month more.

The other touted benefit of Amped unlimited is the Binge On streaming video access, which doesn’t count data from several streaming services against your monthly data usage.

Even T-Mobile’s “unlimited” plan actually has a cap of 23GB/month before speeds are throttled, so this exemption could benefit users who were nearing or maxing out their full allotment of LTE data. However, if you’re a semi-casual video streamer who has not been getting anywhere near the 23GB cap, the Binge On exemptions might have no net effect on your monthly data use.

Finally, there’s the reference to free rentals from Vudu. This is something that T-Mobile is only currently offering to unlimited Amped customers, but while Legere talks up “rentals” in his Tweet, he doesn’t mention that it’s only one free rental per month. That’s a $4-5 value.

If you’re using at least one of the other two above perks of unlimited Amped service, than that free monthly movie could be the cherry on top. If you’re not, then it’s just a $5 free movie coupon you get in exchange for paying $15/month more.

We’re not saying the Amped unlimited plan is a bad thing — especially since neither AT&T nor Verizon offer anything even close to similar — but consumers should be honest with themselves about whether or not they are taking advantage of a plan’s supposed benefits before they make the switch.

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