We now know that T-Mobile’s March 26th event is where the carrier will officially dump annual service contracts and offer up high-end smartphones for use on prepaid plans in exchange for a $99.99 down payment and monthly installments to cover the balance.
This information comes by the way of Twitter account @EVLeaks, which posted the other half of an invitation sent out to journalists this morning, and is the largest amount of information the fourth-largest carrier in the United States has shared about how it plans to completely transform itself into what it’s dubbed an “un-carrier”.
T-Mobile’s plans reportedly include dropping all annual service contracts for users. These contracts are normal for domestic national carriers in the United States, and usually provide a discount on handsets in exchange for your commitment to staying on the carrier for a minimum amount of time. If a user decided to break ties with the carrier before a commitment ended, the user would be hit with a hefty early termination fee to cover the remaining costs the carrier incurred for having sold the handset at a reduced rate.
Instead of contracts the carrier, will pass on the full cost of smartphones like the upcoming iPhone and the Samsung Galaxy S4 directly to subscribers. These users will need to put down a deposit of $99 and pay the remaining balance over the course of a year in installments.
These installments are added to user’s monthly bills. For example, T-Mobile’s version of Apple’s iPhone unsubsidized could cost $699, the carrier would deduct the down payment from the total amount of the phone’s cost and then divide the remaining $600 into monthly installments that could be paid in full over time. After the amount is paid, a user would only be left with the standard fee for whatever prepaid plan they’d chosen. Since there are no contracts holding a user to the carrier, a user could upgrade at any time.
The invitation to media outlets also goes out of its way to point out that T-Mobile will be the only domestic U.S. carrier to offer unlimited talk, text, and data without any contract. It’s unknown if these plan’s data allotment will be truly unlimited or if the company would attempt to curb subscriber’s data usage after a certain amount by arbitrarily slowing down their data. It currently does this unlimited data users past 5GB.
As it pertains to data, T-Mobile could also use the March 26th event to hit the “on” switch for its new next generation LTE network. It previously announced that Las Vegas, Nevada and Kansas City, Missouri would be the first to get access. The faster data speeds of 4G LTE could help T-Mobile compete on a more level playing field that it does today. It’s currently the only carrier in the U.S. whose subscribers don’t have access to this kind of technology.
Lastly, the iPhone is coming to T-Mobile sometime this year, though so far the press has only been treated to a vague release window of 2013. As the invite doesn’t make any hints of new device announcements the possibility of this being a highlight of the show is remote at best but still a possibility.