T-Mobile's Un-carrier Next: Everything you need to know

The nation's second-largest carrier had a lot to share.

Eli Blumenthal Senior Editor
Eli Blumenthal is a senior editor at CNET with a particular focus on covering the latest in the ever-changing worlds of telecom, streaming and sports. He previously worked as a technology reporter at USA Today.
Expertise 5G | Mobile networks | Wireless carriers | Phones | Tablets | Streaming devices | Streaming platforms | Mobile | Console gaming
Eli Blumenthal
6 min read
Angela Lang/CNET

T-Mobile's latest Un-carrier event had plenty of news. From the official launch of its home broadband product to an automatic upgrade to unlimited for those still on tiered or shared data plans, the carrier had much to say on Wednesday as it looks to build on its 5G lead. 

Here's a breakdown of everything you need to know. 

Home Internet is now widely available 

T-Mobile's Home Internet play has been in the works for years. The company has talked about using 4G LTE and 5G to provide a home broadband alternative for a while, and on Wednesday the program finally graduated from a pilot stage to a real offering. 

Available starting at $60 per month (with AutoPay), the carrier says users can expect average download speeds of 100Mbps for "most new customers." The data is unlimited, there are no caps where your speeds will be slowed and T-Mobile touts that taxes are already included, with no additional fees for equipment such as the 4G/5G modem that doubles as a router. 

You don't need to be a T-Mobile wireless user to sign up for the service, with the carrier also not forcing you to sign up for a contract. If you cancel the service you just need to return the modem back to the company. Those with Home Internet will also be able to get a $10 discount on YouTube TV or Philo for streaming television

Although T-Mobile has been building out the service over the last year, Wednesday's launch brings the service to 30 million "eligible" households across the 48 contiguous states, plus Hawaii. 

At its analyst day last month, the company revealed that it ended 2020 with 100,000 subscribers in its Home Internet pilot. The company hopes to have 500,000 Home Internet subscribers by the end of this year, with 7-8 million customers by 2025. 

For reference, Comcast finished 2020 with 33.1 million customers


The T-Mobile Home Internet modem doubles as a router. 

Rick Broida/CNET

T-Mobile says it is going after urban areas that have multiple providers, as well as those in rural communities that have limited competition. Of the 30 million eligible households the company says that 10 million are in rural America, adding that it "plans to continue to expand access." 

Dow Draper, T-Mobile's executive vice president of emerging products, tells CNET that the company plans for Home Internet speeds and household eligibility to "continue to grow significantly in 2021 and 2022." 

While the carrier's 5G network reaches 287 million people today, not everyone will be able to get the Home Internet service. Draper notes that the reason why the footprints won't match up is that the company is focusing on locations where it has "deep areas of capacity" for where it offers Home Internet. This, Draper says, allows for the "highest likelihood of providing people an exceptional broadband experience" without sacrificing its mobile network's performance. 

CNET's Rick Broida has been experimenting with the pilot version of Home Internet and while he found some issues, he planned to keep the service, as the hiccups he experienced were "a lot more tolerable when you're paying less than half what you were before."

A boost to unlimited data for those on older shared plans

Angela Lang/CNET

Beyond the Home Internet push, T-Mobile also revealed that starting on April 18 it will be automatically upgrading existing users with either T-Mobile or Sprint shared data plans to unlimited. It says that it won't change the monthly price, with the switch just removing the worry of how much high-speed data you will use before speeds slow down. 

Called the "Great Unlimited Trade-Up," in essence the carrier is moving those on these limited-data plans to its Magenta Essentials offering without raising the price for their monthly service. 

As with before, access to T-Mobile's growing  5G  network remains included. The carrier says that those switching from a tiered data plan on  Verizon  or  AT&T  will be able to switch to T-Mobile and get this deal at a rate that is "the same or better" than what they are paying for limited data buckets.   

While the data is unlimited on  4G LTE  or 5G, T-Mobile notes that it might slow speeds in busy areas "during congestion" if you've used over 50GB in a month. While mobile hotspot data on Magenta Essentials is generally limited to 3G speeds, the carrier tells CNET that those being switched over will have a "bucket of high-speed hotspot data that's equal or better to their current limited bucket."

A new push to get people on 5G phones


The iPhone 12 is getting a limited-time deal at T-Mobile. 

Andrew Hoyle/CNET

Beyond the unlimited boost for plans, T-Mobile also introduced a "Great Free 5G Upgrade" where it will swap any old, working phone for a new Samsung Galaxy A32 5G. The company says it will accept any phone as part of this promotion -- from flip phones and Sidekicks to old iPhones , BlackBerries or Palms -- so long as they are in working condition, power on and are without cracked screens or water damage. 

As with many other free phone promotions, the phone won't be free upfront with the cost dishing out over 24 monthly bill credits to keep you on the carrier. If you leave before the two years are up you'd be on the hook for the remaining balance owed on the $282 device. You also will need to pay the sales tax. 

Beyond the Galaxy deal, which runs until the end of the year and is available to both new and existing customers, the carrier is also offering a new iPhone 12 promotion.

Running from April 18 through May 1, T-Mobile is offering a free iPhone 12 when you trade in an iPhone 11. Those with "most older" iPhones will be able to get half off the iPhone 12 with trade-in, while those with older iPhones such as an iPhone 7 , iPhone 5S or iPhone 4 will be able to get half off an iPhone 12 Mini

The carrier confirmed to CNET that there will also be discounts available for the iPhone 12 Pro and 12 Pro Max, but it did not detail them. It also did not specify which of the "most older" iPhone models would qualify for the half-off iPhone 12 discount. 

As with the Galaxy deal, the iPhone promotion requires that the device you are trading in be in working condition. Unlike some other wireless promotions, it is available to existing customers without the need to switch over or add a new line. 

Adding new jobs with new stores

T-Mobile says it plans to add 7,500 new jobs over the next two years and will build "hundreds of new retail stores in small towns all across America." The carrier touts that the new stores will be responsible for "5,000 direct new jobs" plus "thousands more in construction and services to build and maintain them." 

A new initiative it calls Hometown Experts will add 2,500 people in "2,500 small towns." The carrier says that these "Experts" will function as "a one-person store, but without a traditional storefront." This includes selling devices, setting up services and providing help connecting people to its network. 

Jon Freier, executive vice president at T-Mobile, says that this program is designed to bring the carrier into areas where it would be "tough" economically to open a full-fledged retail location. "This is our innovative way to bring T-Mobile into those smaller communities, just without the cost of landlords and leases and all those things," he says. 

Frier adds that these employees won't have to store inventory on their own and will instead be connected to "nearby" stores and be able to access the inventory there. The positions will also be treated as full T-Mobile employees, with Frier noting that "they have the same benefits that I do."  

The company says that the first 1,000 of these new Expert positions have already been posted on its website.