T-Mobile Will Charge $35 Activation Fee for Online Transactions

Prepaid activations could be excluded for now.

Corinne Reichert Senior Editor
Corinne Reichert (she/her) grew up in Sydney, Australia and moved to California in 2019. She holds degrees in law and communications, and currently writes news, analysis and features for CNET across the topics of electric vehicles, broadband networks, mobile devices, big tech, artificial intelligence, home technology and entertainment. In her spare time, she watches soccer games and F1 races, and goes to Disneyland as often as possible.
Expertise News, mobile, broadband, 5G, home tech, streaming services, entertainment, AI, policy, business, politics Credentials
  • I've been covering technology and mobile for 12 years, first as a telecommunications reporter and assistant editor at ZDNet in Australia, then as CNET's West Coast head of breaking news, and now in the Thought Leadership team.
Corinne Reichert
T-mobile logo
James Martin/CNET

T-Mobile's $35 activation fee will soon apply to almost every device transaction. It will prevent people from avoiding the fee by using the carrier's online system for upgrades and activations, as reported earlier Monday by T-Mo Report citing internal company documents, some of which were posted on Reddit.

The purported internal documents say T-Mobile is replacing its assisted support charge (ASC) and upgrade support charge (USC) with a "one-time $35 device connection charge for all mobile and broadband devices."

T-Mobile confirmed the change in an emailed statement to CNET, saying it will apply to broadband devices from Nov. 3 and mobile devices from Nov. 15. It will apply to all activations and upgrades across mobile and broadband devices made in store, online, via chat and over the phone.

Previously, the ASC/USC charges didn't apply to online transactions as they didn't require customer assistance workers, T-Mo Report said.

Prepaid activations are excluded from the fee right now, as are any transactions that don't include a new device being connected to the network, like a SIM, according to the report.

Verizon and AT&T charge similar activation fees.