T-Mobile quietly introduces data-only wireless plans without voice call inclusions

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

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  • Voodoo

    These aren’t exactly new. They’re just a revamp of the hearing impaired/deaf only plans.

    • ramirez6131

      How much were these plans before these new ones?

      • Voodoo

        They’ve always changed with the data plans available at the time. They were between $45 and $60 a month but were heavily used back in the sidekick days. Since those were popular phones to use especially for relay calls.

      • Dylan

        I’m deaf and grandfathered in on AT&T TAP. $31.50/month for unlimited data and 5K texts. Nowadays new TAP contracts are data limited and more expensive. Downside of grandfathering is that it’s locked 3G only, no LTE. They want $10/month more for LTE, pass.

        • AP TCW

          We were also on an old $29.99 ($31 and change total after tax) plan they gave to D/HOH, and had Sidekick 4gs until a couple of weeks ago, when we ordered an iPhone 6SPlus. That plan, since we had it from 2003, just always said “unlimited high speed data” but I don’t even think we knew about 4G speed back then. We always got 4G if it was in a 4G area or standing outside, and had unlimited 3G if inside the house or in a non-4g area outside. I think the description still said “unlimited high speed data” in one part of the MyTMobile account sections, but the details somewhere said it was 6GB high speed. Regardless, I was still paying the $31, so I didn’t care. After buy the iPhone, they said over the phone that it would not accept that phone with that plan, so she asked a supervisor to override, and told me they did. However, I later saw that all she did was make the plan (without telling me) a $35 plan with 6gb because I assume that’s all they were able to do since they really did NOT “override” anything to keep us in the $31 plan and did not mention the increased cost as to not lose the sale they were making with 2 iPhone upgrades and being with them almost 14 years! So now we see that it’s 6GB for $35 that they put us into to try to come close to what we were paying for 14 years. FYI, we ALWAYS had unlimited texts since 2003, so where they told YOU that you only can have 5,000, I don’t know where THAT came from! AND, you say you were always locked into 3G, but when 4G first came out, we were getting a 4G connection automatically if we were standing in a 4G capable area. They never had the capability to STOP 4G if it was a capapble phone on the plan we had, so how they were able to do that to YOU is pretty weird if your phone had the ability to receive 4g signal. NOW….we actually get LTE on the phone if standing outside or traveling, and 4G/3G inside (but use wifi always anyway) since dropping the Sidekick 4gs and going with the iPhones, as the SK4gs were not capable of LTE. Since they said they were not able to connect the iPhone to the $31 plan (or so they said, or the supervisor just said “it’s $35 NOW…”), MAYBE if you put your sim in someone elses LTE-capable android phone to test it out, you may get LTE anyway if you change phones and they have no way of stopping that LTE signal from coming into your phone. Plus, if you’re paying $31.50 already, and it’s worth it to you to pay $35 (plus whatever little tax there would be) to get a signal higher than 3G and unlimited texting, you can ask for the new plan and get it. But what bothers me is this: for only $20, you can get unlimited texting AND 2GB HIGH SPEED and unlimited 3G under the NEW PLANS…..and YOU’RE Paying $31.50 TO STAY GRANDFATHERED INTO A HIGHER RATE PLUS LESS SERVICE THAN WHAT THEY ARE CHARGING RIGHT NOW!!!!!

  • ramirez6131

    Data only plans+BingeOn+MusicFreedom+JOD=Best setup ever

    • JG

      Don’t forget Data Stash & Mobile Without Borders.

    • Josie


  • Tomorrow

    Right on, the sales person was clueless…maybe tomorrow, they will be better informed!

  • dontdoubtit

    So quietly, the TMO reps don’t know anything about them!

  • NOYB

    I thought data-only plans were for tablets, laptops, and hotspots.

  • Can I move my Jump On Demand phone to this?

  • Fabian

    What I learned:

    Works only as postpaid with credit check; no Simple Choice No Credit Check; no Simple Choice Prepaid, no Simply Prepaid.

    No $10 discount.

    $20 for the SIM (activation), but some reps have waived that.

    Works with the new T-Mobile app, and you have the switch to disable Binge On, but apart from that no mentions of Binge On.

    No mention of Tethering, but it works.

    • Thanks. Looks like it’s not such a good deal, after all.

  • JG

    What about the important info… Do these plans include Data Stash, Mobile Without Borders, Music Freedom & Binge On? And what happens when the allotted data is used up? throttled but unlimited for the rest of the billing cycle? Or are you cut off?

    • Zacamandapio

      If your plan has 3GB or higher it includes all that.

    • Angel

      3GB+ and they include all of the Simple Choice plan features.

  • MisterSuperGod

    Hey Christine, are you single? *wink, wink* :)
    Seriously, though.
    Why pay $95 for 22Gb when new prepaid users could get unlimited for that price?
    What happens once you reach your data cap?
    Seems more like Verizon’s sucker system of spend, spend, spend for more data.

  • Tmoblows

    good luck with tmobile speed slower than the old days of Sprint 1XRTT

    • Acdc1a

      You’re an idiot.

    • patt

      wasn’t Sprint awarded by REAL PEOPLE not by PAID PEOPLE being slowest? their 3G was even SLOWER then 1X. LTE slower then HSPA or even HSPA+. Sure there are plenty of people who will push 100mbps+ but that’s not many of them.

      • skywalkr2

        It wasn’t even fast enough to load a static webpage ever for me. It’s why I switched.

    • Trevnerdio

      You do realize that 1xRTT isn’t even capable of loading a webpage anymore, right? It’s the CDMA equivalent of GPRS.

    • Christal Lavery

      I agree. Going to switch off T-Mobile asap

  • Did an online support chat with t-mobile and switched me to this new plan. Said it still includes all simple choice features (Simple global, binge-on, etc. )

    • Josie

      Also did the change through Chat although it took a little convincing. The agent initially said that these plans were only for tablets and then told me I was required to have voice service on my line. After sending the agent a few articles they relented and said they would change as part of a “special plan”

      • LittlePumpkin

        unfortunately many call center agents are oblivious to what their companies offer. There have been many times in my 15 yrs of call center experience that we actually had to look up online the things our customers were talking about, that weren’t made available to us, as agents who work for the company! in our training or even our internal databases or through a supervisor. These gargantuan companies have the old right hand doesn’t now what the left is doing. They hire practical “robots”- employees who are mere numbers, hence the change from “Personnel Dept” to “Human Resources” as if a human being is a “resource”. But back to your point, yes that is not surprising, and it doesn’t surprise me that the self-righteous agent you got pretended to be doing you some sort of favor for selling you a product because he didn’t want to admit he was clueless about his own job.

  • Zod

    I wonder if there will be less ‘Fees’ since there is no traditional phone calling option. Will the universal fee be dropped, how about E911 fees and other fees?

  • Disk Pickable

    I don’t get it. What’s the point of the 22 GB data-only plan, when the same $95 will buy you an “unlimited” data *and* voice plan (with 22 GB of tethering and first 25 GB full-speed)?

    • LittlePumpkin

      What about 75$ do you NOT get? It’s a mere 20$ for 2GB. There ARE still people out there who really are hard of hearing, who would love this plan. There are also people who are not hard of hearing, who could do without the voice plan, and do *not want to pay* the higher price for both data and voice.

      • Disk Pickable

        I *do* understand the value of the cheaper data plans (I myself am on the prepaid 5 GB/100 min. plan for $30 now). Which is why I didn’t *comment* on them.

        So, again: What’s the value of the *$95* data-only plan, when you get even *more* data with a traditional data/voice plan for the same price?

        • Jaden Keuten

          Who knows. T-Mobile is weird.

    • Christal Lavery

      Unlimited means such poor service after 14g that you would have been better off with ancient dial up. T mobile data not for high volume users

      • MisterSuperGod

        You mean 14GB, i take it… ?
        What’s this all about?
        Please elaborate.

  • tyyy

    tmobile has had data only plan for YEARS they were called voice bars

  • Fabian

    In the T-Mobile app, under Line Details and then under Smartphone Mobile Hotspot it says:

    131MB of 0.00MB used… Hotspot data.

    I’m not sure but, maybe tethering is not included. I haven’t had the time to read the plan’s TOS. Maybe someone knows more about it.

    • Fabian

      I called T-Mobile, the rep first said that the plan doesn’t include tethering, but then he assumed it is included because all plans include that since whatever date. I assume his opinion is based on the Simple Choice North America Support page and not on the details of the “SC NA Data Only Plan”, because the plan’s details don’t list anything, as if nothing is included. (Where other plan’s details list: Unlimited data and texting when you travel, Binge On, Music Freedom, etc.)

      T-Mobile needs to clarify that and update the plans details, and maybe even make a support page for it.

      Other observations:

      611 doesn’t work (I had to call from my other line)

      When I tried a 911 call, LTE went off.

      • macdabby

        Here’s the deal with T-mobile. They used to have 5 gigs for $30, they just changed it to 6 gigs for $35. Tethering has always been “available”, but it was “enabled” for iphones. Apparently you were allowed to do it on any device that didn’t block it, but iphone’s policy is to always block unless the carrier says not to. As recent as a month ago, this wasn’t working for me, but I just tried it right now and apparently it’s working now. I have the $35/mo plan on an iphone 6+ and i am able to tether without any jailbreak or hacks! :D

  • Bert Gregory

    Google Fi offers data only SIMs that will work in any phone that uses a SIM. It’s $10.00 per Gig + tax. There are no hidden costs. It works great for me. https://fi.google.com. It also includes tethering.

  • VRSmiffSteen

    After the last 72 hours of all out war on incompetence, I HIGHLY RECOMMEND., you NEVER GO INTO ANY CELLULAR’S COMPANIES STORE – EVER. They have cornered the market on hiring the dumbest people breathing to work as ‘store personnel’ to man the store and help you, the customer, with a purchase. You got ANYTHING ELSE, like an issue with your bill or god forbid a problem with your service..

    I just spent three of the worst days out of almost a 20 year relationship with T-Mobile trying to get my NEW IPAD PRO 9.7 ‘provisioned’ with T-Mobile data-only service for my new ipad. First, the T-Mobile store personnel ARE NOT TECHNICAL AND ARE NOT WELL TRAINED. I got literally tossed out of a T-Mobile retail store yesterday after finlly losing it and telling the store tech guru he was an idiot for NOT knowing the NEW ipad had an ’embedded, virtual SIM’ in the hardware and had NO CLUE how to deal with that… DO THIS PROVISIONING AND TECH WORK ON THE T-Mobile TECH SUPPORT LINES, OR better yet, go DIRECTLY to the ‘retention’ department on the phone. They seem to be able to do things the rest of T-Mobile CAN’T do…. AND finally, after they stopped bricking the SIM CARD in my iPhone (still don’t know how), they DID GET MY IPAD PRO PROVISIONED WITH A DATA PLAN.

    YOU DO NOT NEED A US CARRIER SIM CARD TO GET A US DATA PLAN. THE SIM CARD IS BUILT INTO THE IPAD !!!!!! IF they try to tell you different, they are LYING. Go somewgere else.

    • Fabian

      Well the ESIM is very very new, I think it was introduced a month or so ago. Personally I don’t like it, it’ll take away the freedom we have of switching devices without making a call to the provider.

      • VRSmiffSteen

        Since the iPad Pro has BOTH, it’s hard not to stumble when trying to find an excuse for not using the functionality. IF you NEED, that single SIM-Card interface, I have a simple slam your SIM in the slot T-Mumble LOW END device that you can have – free…. Othwise, their EMPLOYEES must be trained in the products they actually sell in their stores.. Othwise, what’s the point ?? If I can keep up in my spare time, if someone is actually paying me to pay attention, I at least try…..

        • Fabian

          I get your point. The store I went to get the data only plan, the employee who was helping me didn’t know anything about it, I had to explain to him that it was a new plan, then he went to ask one of the senior employees maybe it was his boss, I guess he knew about the plan but not in detail because the guy helping me had to call twice to get the right information he needed to proceed with the activation. I say it is T-Mobile’s fault for the lack of communication, the lack of training and why employees come and go.

        • VRSmiffSteen

          Yup… That”‘s Legere’s fault… Starting to look like Global Crossing before he left….

  • You’d think these plans would allow for phone calls at a per minute rate but they don’t. You have to use VoIP with a separate number.

  • DCD

    What happens when you go over the 2gb on the 2 gb plan? Are you throttled or are you charged for every mb u download?

    • Ari

      late response but you will be throttled down to 2G speeds I believe.

  • Tim Reynolds

    This was nearly on April 1st… so perhaps this is was an april fools joke? Because nobody at T-mobile knows anything about this. And that sucks.

    • Lucero917

      I had one of these plans 5yrs ago for my backup phone when it was $30 for unlimited text & 2gb of data. For $5 more dollars 6gb of data? I’m switching back! You can’t ask the pawn workers though. That would be a supervisor question.