T-Mobile quietly introduces data-only wireless plans without voice call inclusions
A typical smartphone plan includes the ability to make or take voice calls, send and receive text messages, and browse the Internet via unlimited or capped data allowances. For T-Mobile, however, it may be time to start introducing wireless services that minimize voice call inclusions, or remove them altogether.
Yesterday, we obtained information that the wireless carrier was planning to launch today Simple Choice rate plans that are data-only, plus unlimited text messaging. As hinted earlier, these plans do not come with voice call inclusions, except for the ability to dial 911. The data-only plans were supposed to be made available for GSM handsets, and are not eligible for the $10 Automatic Mobile Internet Discount. Furthermore, BlackBerry phones will either have to be BB10 or a BlackBerry Priv (BlackBerry’s Android powered smartphone) in order to qualify for the Simple Choice Data-Only plan. The data-only options available were as follows:
- 2GB for $20 per month
- 6GB for $35 per month
- 10GB for $50 per month
- 14GB for $65 per month
- 18GB for $80 per month
- 22GB for $95 per month
As reported by The Wall Street Journal, these plans were intended for mobile users who are hearing impaired, which meant that voice call inclusions are all but useless to them. T-Mobile has since made clear that it is now making the plans available to any customer, although it should be noted that the data-only options are neither sold online nor promoted aggressively by the wireless carrier.
So how do interested mobile users avail of the plans? All they need to do is head to a T-Mobile store, and simply inquire about the options. Interestingly, other major wireless carriers in America also offer similar services. Verizon Wireless, for instance, currently has a data-only option geared for those with hearing impairment, priced at $55 and comes with 2GB of data, plus unlimited text messaging. Sprint also has its own unlimited data-only plan, but is only made exclusively available to hard-hearing mobile users.
The next question is — will these plans click with normal mobile users? The definition of “making a call” has changed, or rather expanded in the last half-decade. Before, mobile users only have to make a call, send a text message, or email somebody. But with the emergence of social media and chat messaging apps, there is so much mobile users can do when connecting with another person — they can do video chats, send each other animated GIFs, or both at the same time. Voice calls may not go extinct entirely, but their importance may be starting to wane in the age of Skype, WhatsApp, and Facebook Messenger. And it is only natural that T-Mobile, which has always been one of the most radical wireless carriers out there, is one of the first to take advantage of this trend, albeit quietly for now.
Source: The Wall Street Journal