T-Mobile expands family plan, bulks up tablet data offer

The wireless war between Sprint and T-Mobile heats up as T-Mobile fires yet another salvo for a second consecutive day.

T-Mobile CEO John Legere.
T-Mobile CEO John Legere at CES 2014. Legere has been eager to fire back at Sprint after its new round of promotions. Lori Grunin/CNET

T-Mobile isn't taking a breather.

A day after quadrupling the amount of data customers can get on its Simple Starter plan, T-Mobile is at it again, expanding its Simple Choice family plan to 10 lines and offering to double the amount of data at your disposal if you add a tablet.

The moves represent a continued escalation of a war between T-Mobile and suddenly nimble Sprint, which is under the direction of new CEO Marcelo Claure, who took over earlier this month. Sprint, the third-largest wireless carrier by subscriber, and T-Mobile, the fourth-largest carrier, are both eager to add customers at each others' expense, as well as from top players Verizon Wireless and AT&T.

Last week, Sprint went on the offensive with a new Family Share Pack plan and a $60 unlimited data plan, which the company was keen to point out was lower than T-Mobile's own unlimited offering. T-Mobile immediately responded with an offer of unlimited data at no charge for one year to anyone leaving a rival carrier. Then came the quadrupled data on Monday.

Tuesday's offer of an expanded plan, which launches tomorrow, allows customers to add up to 10 lines for $10 a line. Unlike family share plans offered by AT&T and Verizon Wireless, in which members draw from the same pool of data, each plan T-Mobile line has its own dedicated pool of data. That may or may not be an advantage depending on how much data each family member uses.

"The old carriers' shared data plans are just another ploy to push customers over their data limits and suck money out of their pockets with overage charges they can't see coming," T-Mobile CEO John Legere said in a statement.

T-Mobile previously limited the family plan to only five members, and the expansion of the limit has been an oft-requested feature.

Each member starts at 1GB of data at LTE speeds, with the connection throttled down after that limit. They have the option to pay up for more LTE data, including an unlimited data plan for $30 more a month.

T-Mobile also launched a tablet promotion for Simple Choice customers that would match the amount of LTE data on your smartphone -- up to 5GB -- to your tablet for $10 a month. For example, a Simple Choice customer with 5GB of LTE data on their smartphone would get another 5GB of data on their tablet, which comes on top of the carrier's existing offer of 200MB of free LTE data for existing customers.

The $80 plan would include 10.2GB of data a month.

"Our tablets are the most data-hungry devices we have, and yet most people live in fear of using their tablet outside of the nearest Wi-Fi hotspot because of those crazy overage fees the big telecoms hold over their customers' heads," said Mike Sievert, chief marketing officer for T-Mobile, in a statement. "T-Mobile customers live in a different reality.

While both Sprint and T-Mobile have been aggressive with their promotions, analysts have noted that the prices themselves haven't dropped too much. Instead, consumers are getting more bang for their buck in terms of more data or better features like added family members.

The action over the last week indicates that Sprint is still kicking, and T-Mobile is taking the competitive threat seriously.

About the author

Roger Cheng is the executive editor in charge of breaking news for CNET News. Prior to this, he was on the telecommunications beat and wrote for Dow Jones Newswires and The Wall Street Journal for nearly a decade. He's a devoted Trojan alum and Los Angeles Lakers fan.

 

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