T-Mobile tempts with no-contract mobile broadband

On May 20, T-Mobile will sell monthly 4G data access sans contracts.


Having fast 4G access wherever you roam has a particularly sweet and succulent taste all its own. Committing to an onerous monthly contract, though, is a bitter pill to swallow. T-Mobile, with its new prepaid data plans, thinks it has an attractive alternative.

The carrier announced today that it will sell what it calls Mobile Broadband Service Passes, which start at $15 per week (300MB) and run the gamut from a 1.5GB data bucket ($25 per month) all the way up to a full 5GB for $50 monthly fee. Notably, you can pay up-front for these passes without having to enter a binding monthly contract.

That's sounds compelling to me, especially if I plan on doing lots of business travel in a short time frame and won't have much use for 4G access the other 10 months out of the year. One issue that isn't clear from T-Mobile's press release is whether you'll have to buy one pass for each mobile device you plan to use; phone, hot spot, USB modem, antablet.

Another caveat is that T-Mobile's "4G" network technically runs on HSPA+ infrastructure. While it theoretically offers download speeds of up to 42Mbps, I typically clock throughput at around 8 to 10Mbps down. That can't beat the approximately 17Mbps (down) I regularly observe on Verizon and AT&T's LTE 4G networks here in New York . Still, this could be a way to try 4G without much risk.

About the author

Brian Bennett is senior editor for appliances at CNET and reviews a wide range of household and smart-home products. These include everything from microwave ovens, blenders, ranges and coffee makers to personal weather stations. An NYC native, Brian now resides in bucolic Louisville, Kentucky where he dreams of someday owning the sparkling house of the future.


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