Thinking about Webconnect? Think Again?


Already noted this morning was the launch of the webconnect 3G and the hopeful impact it will have on showcasing T-mobile as a true 3G power. However, Sascha Segan over at Gearlog has some thoughts on how T-mobile may have just bungled this launch. He is dead on (in my opinion) that T-mobile is not focusing this data card on those with whom its wireless services depend so much on, families, students and people who want to save money. Instead, by placing its price point directly in line with the competition, its attempting to capture the road warrior market with whom they have struggled to connect with. 

  •  The wrong pricing. T-Mobile’s 3G network only covers about 100 million people – less than half the coverage of Verizon Wireless’s. Yet they’re charging the same as Verizon, $60/month, with the same 5 GB monthly data cap. So why not pick the carrier with the better coverage? Meanwhile, Cricket remains the only innovator pushing 3G
  • The wrong target market. With a $60/month price point, a 5GB cap and a $200/GB overage charge, T-Mobile is clearly going for the road warrior, occasional business traveler market. But that’s not T-Mobile’s market. T-Mobile’s greatest strength is among families, students, and individuals who like low prices, cute phones and great customer service. T-Mobile isn’t likely to win many businesses over from the other three carriers with a combination of poor coverage and high rates.
  • Awful roaming policies. T-Mobile’s Huawei E181 modem is a quad-band UMTS device, able to roam on AT&T’s network here in the US and on many foreign networks. T-Mobile completely bungles roaming. First, they turned off AT&T roaming in the US. Then, they offered no international roaming bucket plans – only an option to be charged $15 per megabyte. That’s $15,000 per gigabyte. Who wants to roam at $15,000 per gigabyte?
  •  No synergy. T-Mobile’s greatest strength is their network of 10,000 Wi-Fi hotspots. The Huawei E181 comes with GPS functionality, so you’d think T-Mobile would make it easy to find a hotspot near you. Not so – the webConnect stick comes with the GPS disabled. Fortunately, T-Mobile says they’re working on this one.
  • No tethering. T-Mobile still doesn’t have any official plans for tethering mobile phones to PCs. You can tether without permission, but your access may get cut off at any time. The three other big carriers permit tethering, and they even make some money off the practice.

Having read his thoughts over, what do you think? Did T-mobile bungle this launch?


  • Ryan

    T-Mobile must enjoy not selling stuff. They’re insane. They can’t possibly think that ANYONE would be stupid enough to actually purchase this at 59.99 a month? WHY? I could go out and get an AT&T/Sprint/Verizon data card with probably twice the coverage of T-Mobile for the SAME price. They definitely need to be more competitive or this will be just another paperweight like the Cameo.

  • TMobile should have held off on this launch until either more markets were on the 3G network, or the price points were lowered.

    I still don’t understand why they don’t have a loyalty plan for these 3G usb connectors. People who already have service through a carrier should be getting a discount. They should be promoting the hell out of this to people like me, who would in a heartbeat get one if the 3G network were in my town. Instead I am left in the dark ages of EDGE, while kids with the worst credit possible are getting on 3G with cricket. If that isn’t a slap in the face of TMobile, I don’t know what is.

    I think the big magenta is awesome in most regards, but this is silly.

    I would like to see them announce some turn on dates for 3G networks as well as tethering for the G1.

  • TRobshi

    I think T-Mobile is purposely doing this so that they don’t have a lot of people using up their 3G network. I know its odd to purposely try to not sell a lot of them, but they don’t want a ton of people wasting their 3G bandwidth on laptops when it’s meant for phones. I think they launched this simply to stay competetive and get what revenue they can from it, it’s definately not a focus point for the company.

  • Mr. Stacy R. Parr

    In many of the articles talking about this new usb device, the writers are also reiterating the fact that TMO wants to expand its 3g coverage to 100 additional cities and cover 100M additional people. As I’ve said before in here, TMO is still refusing to give specific locations or specific dates. Frankly, I think TMO is squandering an opportunity to win over subscribers from Sprint. People have been saying that Sprint has (or had) bad customer service and that TMO has great customer service, but TMO refuses to get serious about their 3g rollout, refusing to give specific dates or new locations, so those angry subscribers from Sprint are defecting to ATT or Verizon, when TMO could have had a great opportunity to get them. Sad, in my opinion.

  • Puv


  • mfabela

    lol….wow, i want to know who are the peeps responsible for setting the prices to this??? please, i would like a sitdown with them!!!

  • tmosprinter

    I used to be a loyal T-Mobile customer, but I moved one of my two lines to Sprint a year ago and never regretted it once. I got onto the SERO bandwagon and I have a 3g enabled plan with unlimited data, unlimited messages and 500 voice minutes. The best part is I get free roaming for both voice and data on Verizon, so I have coverage pretty much anywhere. I can tether my WM 6.1 phone to my laptop using a built-in “Internet sharing” icon and usually get speeds around 800kbit-1Megabit on EVDO rev.A. I pay $30 a month for this and you know what, Sprint billing and customer service are just fine. And not just that, I don’t really need to call them because stuff works and bills are always $34 as long as I stay below 500 voice minutes a month.
    My other mobile line is still with T-Mobile due to the contract extension I stupidly took when G1 came out, but I don’t have any data features enabled for it simply because it’s too expensive now. It used to be affordable, but when I tried out the G1 (hated it BTW), T-Mobile switched me off the $10 unlimited data plan and now I can’t have back. My third line with T-Mobile is my home VOIP phone and I have almost no complaints for that one, it’s hard to beat $10 a month. It does have issues occasionally, but they’re usually resolved with a router reset.
    So as you can see, I’m mainly value-driven with brand loyalty not being too much of a concern. And Sprint seems to have changed their evil ways of the past ever since they got new CEO, so you shouldn’t be scared of them.
    And I agree with the rest of the posters, that T-Mobile needs to be honest with themselves and sell this service for much less. Also it is stupid that you need a separate SIM card for that. I remember in the old days I was able to move my SIM card between my T-Mobile EDGE-enabled phone and a T-Mobile PCMCIA card without having to purchase different plans for two devices.

  • What do you mean T-mobile doesn’t allow tethering? My previous phone was a Nokia 5300 (not a smartphone by any means). It had the capability to do tethering. I had some trouble setting it up and after a 10 minute phone call to T-mobile support I was up and running using my normal data plan. Right now I use a rooted G1 with wireless tethering but my old method was definitely T-mobile supported.

  • Usb Highway Robbery

    Waaaay too overpriced,I would of bought this but come on now I would rather do Crickett Wireless $45 Unlimited 3g,Im actually thinking about switching carriers….

  • Who needs a 3g card when u can just root your G1 did it the other day and works great….. can you say playing world of warcraft over 3g hehe!!

  • Sempuukyaku

    T-Mobile doesn’t allow tethering? That’s totally false. Not only does T-Mobile allow tethering, they have a SPECIFIC department in Tech Support that will walk you through setting up your phone as a modem. The only phones that you can’t tether with are your current T-Mobile 3G phones (G1, Behold, Sony Ericsson TM506, Memoir), and the Sidekick. Need to do better fact-checking here.

  • t1 connect

    Man this pricing pissed me off this morning when I went to order it….sprints card is 99 and it doesn’t cost 60 bucks a month so me being a die hard magenta lover I called tech support and asked if I could teather the g1. The gladly said yes you may and I told them make sure its noted in my account that I could….60 bucks a month…my foot..they musta lost their god damn mind.

  • donosaur

    While I agree the pricepoint for this is rather high it is in line with the industry so I don’t really have a problem with it. This article is either wrong or outright lying about tethering though. I work in a call center where all we do all day is tether phones to PCs. For now the phones that support HSPA are not to be used as modems but I can see that changing once the 3G network is built out more. You have to realize our 3G network is not even a year old. The other companies charge extra for tethering while TMO lets you do it free if you pay for internet on your device.

  • Josh

    At this point in their 3G launch I don’t think that they will be able to compete with the others based purely on coverage, especially at the same price point. They should lower the price, not a lot, just enough so that someone who just uses it around town and is in a 3G area would have an excuse to go with them.

  • MadProfessor

    No good. My market here does not have any 3G coverage for T-Mobile. I sell aircards for Sprint and AT&T for FREE(@ Radio Shack) on a 2 year activation and both companies are fully covered for 3G in this market (Ormond Beach,FL.) Verizon is up to par here also with their aircard service. Everyone besides T-Mobile realizes this is going to be a humongous flop with this price point.

  • i totally agree with TRobshi . yes i think t-mobile doesnt want their 3G network to overcrowded like the at&t 3G network. thats why at&t 3G is soooo slow . dnt say its not cause i have a data card from at&t . and the 3G is soo slow everywere . i have gone to La , chicago, new york and texas and even puerto rico.. and yes its slow… i get faster speeds on edge… so thats what i think t-mobile doesnt want to happen. i think they only want it to be meant for phone usage….

  • They blew it and only have a few days to wise up. Did they seriously think they could compete at $60.

    T-Mobile needs to spend sometime examining the market.

  • I think, T-Mobile will drop the price eventually once they see customers aren’t biting at the current price.

    Also, what happens if a customer has Unlimited Data add on for $19.99 with the original Unlimited rules, not this 5GB cap stuff, and decide to put their SIM in the modem, and go buck wild. Will they stop them by capping their unlimited?

  • iswaridontworkfortmo

    Tmo dose not want to push something they are not 100% positive is going to work well. I am not talking out of line when i say tmos 3g network is not up to parr yet. So they come out with a network card that works just alright but not make a huge deal about it, to satisfy there existing customer base that are using gc89s or nothing and just in need of something. I think its a good idea to under play it until the network is were it needs to be then they will be competitive about the pricing.

  • mingkee

    I am not happy right now
    T-Mobile is plainly stupid, they simply didn’t learn from the mistake from Total Internet in 2005, and G1 last year
    I swear to God, this plan won’t sell at all
    same price and same usage limit as other 3, there’s NO WAY to compete (ATT, VZW, Sprint have 3G data card service for a few years)
    are the guys paranoid???!
    they need to bring the price down by $10 and increase usage limit to 10GB, with $2/GB overage N O W ! ! ! ! !

  • JF

    @ terryjohnson16,

    I need to find my source but I believe I saw a posting on another blog (from an internal source) that said they were somehow not allowing “grandfathered data plans” to be used with this card. Maybe there is an internal audit that they do with people who have old data plans but with USB Data card IMEI or something. It would be possible right?

  • David

    And on top of all of this, T-Mobile has STOPPED rolling out 3G markets!!! WTF? I have a Sprint 3G laptop card with TRULY UNLIMITED (Not the so called 5gb unlimited) browsing, and its under $50 a month! There is NO loyalty from T-Mobile….seriously disappointing…

  • nick

    My G1 isn’t even rooted and I can tether it to my computer, due to PDAnet.

  • Allen

    This comment is to reply to the source editor in Gearlog who posted the commentary.

    Sascha, the article link that you are referring to in your rant is poorly worded and in saying that tethering is not supported, plus the article was brought back from the dead from last November when T-mobile’s 1st HSDPA 3g phone was released. The editor, Jamie Lendino, asked if the TM506 was supported as a modem and was told it was not supported, then published half-truth article stating ALL devices are not supported. Would anybody care if Jamie just published a small article talking about only the TM506 cannot be used as a modem? It was just tossed in and mixed in a blender of useful tips for other phones that can be tethered.

    Here’s the big picture, T-mobile has been helping customers tethering their phones since 2001 in the days of 9kbps CSD data on devices. Why would T-Mobile randomly charge for tethering on ALL devices if customers have been setup with it for years?

    Tethering IS supported on EDGE/GPRS devices (Most Blackberries, MOTORAZR, etc.) and 3G UMTS capable phones (samsung t819, nokia 6263, etc.).

    Tethering is NOT supported officially on Sidekicks and the “3G HSDPA enabled devices” like the SE TM-506, G1, Samsung behold(t919) and Samsung Memoir (t929) and grey market phones. If you managed to get them tethered to the PC, that’s where T-mobile has no guarantees that it will work. That article you referenced is not the only thing you can rely on…

    In my theory, T-Mobile would not have a stronger selling point for the WebConnect USB laptop stick if HSDPA 3G tethering was officially supported on those cell phones(why purchase a 3g stick then?) and the cost of maintaining and adding a 3g network is very pricey. 3g Data throughput when using a computer is much greater than using just a device which will impact the network more which means higher operating costs, that’s also why 3g solely for phones are 24.99Mo/34.99Mo instead of 59.99Mo for the WebConnect 3g stick (note that other carriers charge extra for tethering their phones).

    This 3g WebConnect laptop stick is the customer’s mulling to fixing the PCMCIA dilemma with the Ol’ SonyEricsson GC89, because newer laptops only have the Expresscard 54 slot and most computers have a USB connector and keep the internet functionality separate from their phones.

    The roaming policies are not “Awful(insert stink-face here)”… Why pay 59.99 a month for full 3g when you’re roaming on a tower that supports only EDGE(if lucky) and GPRS speeds? Data Roaming on someone else’s tower is not even guaranteed.

    Features are disabled till they gathered enough real world data and input so it won’t spell trouble for customers and its network. I think they call this… Postponement obsolescence. Good thing I paid attention in Home Economics in High School!

    The entry price point for TMO’s 3g card is right in the middle when you factor in customer loyalty and coverage with other carriers like Verizon and Cricket Wireless. Cricket wireless is $40 and no contract but they have sparse coverage. Verizon has the coverage, but are oriented to people who don’t factor in extraordinary customer care and charge $250GB past the 5GB limit. T-mobile has decent 3g coverage and is meant for people that are in a TMO 3g area already, $200GB past the 5gb limit and the card is $50 cheaper than a comparable card from verizon with a 2 year contract (49.99tmo vs 99.99 verizon)and they have wireless hotspots. This is not the end of the world for T-mobile and is a good start for its future services.

    Regarding the hotspots, stop being lazy and go to or call 877.822.SPOT (7768) to find one near you. I’d say that’s easy enough.

    To the readers, I would recommend doing personal research on each carrier for pricing and coverage if purchasing a 3g card and not solely base your decisions on a commentary.

    Anybody up to the task of purchasing a 3g card from each carrier, testing it in different markets and publishing the results, eh?

    P.S.:(T-Mobile) GPRS= less than 56Kbps, EDGE= 56Kbps to 230Kbps, UMTS 3G= 400Kbps to 600Kbps, HSDPA 3G 600Kbps-1.2Mbps

  • ahenke22

    David are you grandfathered into a sprint plan? Because everything on their site, and brochures reads 59.99 with 5 gb cap..

  • J

    What do you mean T-Mobile has stopped rolling out 3G markets? Thats 100% false. My market is working on 3G as we speak as well as several other markets. It already has been stated officially that the 3G footprint is going to double this year.

    The tethering statement is false as well. They just never had an official policy until recently. Here is the official policy as of today:

    On March 26, a new policy to help representatives understand restrictions and guidelines around using a handset or device as a modem will be added to StreamLine.

    While T-Mobile does not proactively advertise that handsets and devices can be used as a modem, customers with specific handsets and devices and a data plan will be able to use their handset or device as a modem.

    As far as roaming and pricing goes, data is expensive. It costs T-Mobile more per user to supply the bandwidth necessary for HSDPA. AT&T has their own fiber backbone and in many cases are the final mile provider for T1s. Therefore, they can get circuits cheaper. Meanwhile, T-Mobile in many cases has to pay AT&T for this last mile.

    You would be amazed how much money T-Mobile pays to AT&T each year or even each month. You cannot continue to compete with a carrier you are constantly giving millions and millions of dollars to each month in roaming charges and circuits. The initial cutting of that cord hurts T-Mobile somewhat, but AT&T will find themselves with a far smaller budget to work with. With the money saved, T-Mobile is putting that money into their network instead of putting it into AT&Ts. Roaming is going to be less of an issue because there are going to be more native coverage.

  • Evan

    The final comment about tethering is incorrect. T-Mobile does allow tethering, at least if you have a Blackberry Unlimited Plan. I recently found this out by calling customer service. I was informed that I could speak with a Blackberry specialist who would walk me through the setup on my laptop. I called back later on and at the initial voice prompt said “Blackberry”. Upon being connected with the rep, she confirmed that T-Mobile tethering was included in my plan with NO EXTRA CHARGE and walked me through what I needed to do on the laptop. The tethering worked immediately.

    I have read in numerous forums that T-Mobile doesn’t support or allow tethering. This is absolutely false. The tethering works wonderfully with my Blackberry Curve on T-Mobile’s GPRS network. Admittedly, it’s not the fastest, but it gets the job done at no extra charge. This just re-enforces that T-Mobile provides the most compelling value proposition compared to the other major cell carriers, and of course they have the BEST customer services.

    For full disclosure, here’s what I have: voiceplan with unlimited Blackberry (BIS and not BES) addon.

  • mingkee

    can you specify which data option allows phone as modem?
    I’d say ALL of them except SK
    I’d go for unlocked 3G phones (with band IV support of course) and use as modem, because I hate branding all the way to HELL
    see samsung Behold and Memoir, no tethering (phone as modem) support at all, though TM506 now can be completely de-branded

  • saintory

    Currently the mobile service providers are only competing with each other. There are 3 major data technologies out there now: 3G (gsm carriers like T-Mo ant at&t), WiMax (sprint) and EVDO (vzw).

    T-Mo is late to the data services game because of FCC “red tape” when they acquired the AWS 1700 spectrum. The other major player who acquired AWS 1700 spectrum was vzw. Hold that thought for the moment.

    So T-Mo has the 3G spectrum and has started deploying 3G services into it. If you look closely (sorry, don’t have citation here) you will see that the 3G services they are deploying are future-proofed for LTE later on with minimal capital reinvestment (i.e., 3G hardware deployed now can be upgraded to LTE later via software).

    Now they currently don’t have major data customers (BB users, perhaps) but they probably have a lot of business customers (gsm works when you leave the country whereas EVDO usually doesn’t). As stated earlier, their competition is only other mobile service providers and those guys have already stabilized a price point for these data services. If you know a price is stabilized then projecting revenue is easier than in a competitive market. A first step would be to win over some of the competitions data customers into T-Mo data. Face it, business class is called business class because businesses will pay for the extra amenities while families and students sit in coach. I digress.

    Now business customers are probably the highest probability to be lured over first because the coverage they are going to want (major metro areas, possibility of international coverage) happens to fit all the markets that T-Mo offers 3G data coverage into. Furthermore the influx of data customers is going to be acceptable to the network integrity, so T-Mo can test it at an acceptable rate. And getting their competitions dollars while simultaneously not paying the competition for sharing coverage allows them more revenue to reinvest into the network. Keep in mind that anyone who moves to this data plan is going to guarantee at least 1 year of subscription fees into T-Mo.

    So all this puts T-Mo into a positive financial outlook. This is good for T-Mo customers because they’re not going to fold anytime soon.

    A typical MP3 file is 14MB at 320kbps, so you would need to download 357 MP3s per month just to break the cap. To me that sounds like a power user. I assume a casual gamer who plays WoW 2-3 times weekly and surfs the web (slashdot, email, facebook, etc.) is probably never going to hit the 5GB cap. So this service might be good for you to do interactive web stuff wherever service exists but is not good for you if you’re bleeding edge (watching online episodes, streaming music, etc.). That’s what wired services are for (Fios, Cable, etc.).

    If you take the above paragraph has real, and you assume that T-Mo offers lower plans (smaller caps with less dollars per month) you can speculate that eventually less-than-casual users will choose the T-Mo data plan over their current dial-up or DSL. More customers == more revenue.

    I predict that as mobile service providers deploy improved data technology (3G into 4G/LTE) they will start to compete with wired providers at a consumer level. It’s true that current fiber and cable with docsis 3.0 can provide 10M/50M u/d but as the mobile providers release 3.5G (HSPA) and 4G (LTE) technologies the field of competition will become wider (In the future, Comcast vs. T-Mobile?).

    So the note earlier of VZW with AWS 1700 spectrum… their long term plans are to evolve their network from CDMA to 4G GSM (LTE) technologies. This could mean that eventually the mobile service provider competition in the USA will be mostly GSM based, with Sprint the only non-GSM (WiMax) player. At the moment VZW doesn’t need to move quickly on their LTE plans, so they can just sit on the AWS 1700 spectrum they have. I predict that as at&t and T-Mo improve their network capacity and integrity VZW will play their AWS 1700 hand accordingly. Competition (usually) improves infrastructure and can have the side effect of (also) lowering prices, which is good for all of us.

    So am I happy that I have to wait longer to ditch my fat cable company and move to a provider I like? Yeah, a little. When I look at it the above way it kinda makes sense and I feel that they’re probably making a good business decision.

  • aprior

    when is at&t going to buy out t-mobile? seriously, i don’t know why so many people like t-mobile? i only have 7 more months until i am with verizon!

  • Anonymous

    First, you have to remeber that T-mobile is smaller than the comapnies that it competes against. All of the other companies are larger by acquisition and merger. T-Mobile is a stand alone company that seeks to pioneer its way through the wireless industry without having to limp along on the backs of its competitors. Every year, T-mobile’s network is becoming bigger and stronger. It is still a rookie compared to teh likes of AT&tT and Verizon, but can still give both companies a run for their money.

    While competitively, it may be a simple thing to lower the price….anyone who took an Economics classs can understand why this is not so simple. By all accounts, T-mobile is the most price-minimzing company in the industry. With 8 JD Power awards (more than any other carrier) in customer service, they are no slouch when it comes to treating their customers with loyalty and respect.

    Just because they are smaller does not mean that they do not have the right to charge fair market value for their products. Do a coverage check before you buy it and quit whining….every company has its opportunities. What every company does not have is an aspiration to value employees and customers higher than the botton line. T-Mobile is the only carrier that has not announced company-wide lay-offs or some insane merger…so I think they are doing pretty darn good.

  • David

    “J says:
    March 26, 2009 at 7:55 am What do you mean T-Mobile has stopped rolling out 3G markets? Thats 100% false. My market is working on 3G as we speak as well as several other markets. It already has been stated officially that the 3G footprint is going to double this year”

    Well they HAVE stopped rolling out new cities… Yes they say they are gonna double it, but I am still waiting…NO 3G where I live and we aren’t a small city either.

  • David

    ahenke22, I am not on a grandfathered plan, I do get a discount through my work so that helps a little. And when they started to send those letters out saying they were going to cap the downloads to the 5GB, I had just had service a month or so and told them that I was either going to cancel my service or they were going to keep me Unlimited, so they kept me unlimited. I check my bill each month and it says Unlimited and I go over the 5GB easily with no overages.

  • yea i agree with aprior t-mobile should just get bought by at&t n da world would be a better place…. seriously who likes t-mobile Nobody!!!!

  • TRobshi

    Obviously a lot of people at this site like T-Mobile, why are you here if you hate them?

  • J

    To say T-Mobile has “stopped” rolling out 3G to new cities is inaccurate. There just have not been any recent cities to come on air. That does not mean the work has stopped. The 3G work is busier than it has ever been at this moment. There is just an insane amount of work going on.

  • mingkee

    a guy in hofo successfully tested this data stick with smartphone connect ($25) service, using internet2 APN, he didn’t get success with old Total Internet
    but once he switched to Samrtphone Data, lo and behold, it worked

  • Has anyone got it yet?