- by Emily Parkhurst –
T-Mobile held a press conference on Twitter with streaming audio from its website Wednesday to announce the company will offer customers 200 MB of free data if they purchase a tablet through T-Mobile.
Beginning Nov. 1, T-Mobile US will sell thenewly announced Apple iPad Air (16 GB) for no down payment and $26.25 per month for 24 months, and the iPad mini for $17.91 per month for 24 months. The Retina screen version of the iPad mini will be available in November and will cost $22.08 per month for 24 months.
After the devices are paid off, the free 200 MB per month of 4G LTE data continues for the life of the tablet. T-Mobile will also have the Samsung Galaxy Tab 2 and the Google Nexus 7 available through the program.
“This is where the world is going,” said T-Mobile CEO John Legere during the audio part of the press conference. “The growth here (in tablets) is huge and we want it to be affordable for everyone.”
The free 200mb will be applied automatically to existing T-Mobile customers’ accounts if they have tablets registered with the company. New customers can sign up for a $20-per-month Mobile Internet account, and then be eligible for the deal, Legere said.
Legere said that if a customer runs out of free data, T-Mobile won’t slow down the connection (called throttling) or charge overage fees. Instead, a screen will pop up prompting the customer to either buy a $5 unlimited day pass or sign up for a monthly 500 MB plan for $10 per month.
Wall Street appears to be less than impressed by the announcement, though. T-Mobile’s stock price dropped slightly as the press conference began, from $27.47 to $27.12. Overall, however, the company’s share price is up since it began its “Un-carrier” campaign.
The free wireless tablet service is a clever new tactic to try to draw more customers to T-Mobile’s network, something T-Mobile has been focusing on as part of the new “Un-carrier” strategy. The company now offers free international calls and cheap roaming plans for international travelers as well.
The program appears to be paying off: T-Mobile added 1.1 million customers last quarter, the most growth its seen in four years.
The Bellevue-based carrier is the fourth largest mobile network in the country after Verizon,AT&T and Sprint, and has not been a big carrier for tablets.
This announcement was clearly aimed at changing that.
“We’ll prove we have the lowest cost of ownership for tablets,” Legere said.
He said T-Mobile’s future announcements will be driven by consumer demands.
“You keep telling us exactly what to do to be successful and we’ll keep doing it,” he said.