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CES 2017: T-Mobile CEO Taunts Competition By Doubling Down On Unlimited Plans; Reimbursing For Unused Data

T-Mobile CEO announced the move to a single simplified, unlimited data plan for all customers, as well as plans to strike taxes and fees from monthly bills.

T-Mobile took to the CES 2017 stage to make a series of bold announcements on Thursday. The self-proclaimed "un-carrier" announced it would simplify billing with an all-inclusive, unlimited data plan without taxes and fees, and would pay its customers for their unused wireless data, among other changes.

The Bellevue, Wash.-based provider's boisterous CEO, John Legere, declared that T-Mobile would be offering one unlimited wireless data plan moving forward, T-Mobile One.

"I'm doubling down on this. We are going 100 percent unlimited, and it’s the only plan we are going to sell," Legere said. "We are going to force the industry to be more simple and transparent."

[Related: CES 2017: T-Mobile Unveils IoT Pricing Plans For Consumers, Partners See Opportunity With Business Customers]

Legere referred to rate plans as "relics" of wireless bills of the past.

"Mobile internet should not be sold in bits and bytes, it should be crazy-simple," he told the audience. "Carriers have cashed-in way too much on this."

In an effort to simplify billing without surprises, the provider is also striking taxes and fees off of customer bills by rolling these "bewildering" items into the plan at one set price that doesn’t change over time for customers, Legere said.

Legere said that wireless plan taxes and fees on customer bills total more than $17 billion each year.

"All taxes and fees are included in the price for the [T-Mobile One] plan … and we are doing it without raising prices," he said. "Taxes and fees aren't going away; we are investing them in our customers."

T-Mobile also announced a "kickback" feature that will reimburse light data users. Users on lines that use less than 2GB of data in a month will receive up to $10 in bill credit, per line, on their following month's bill.

While T-Mobile has not said whether the new plans and changes will be available to business customers or channel partners, T-Mobile partners are already eager to take advantage of the changes.


TeraNova Consulting Group is a telecom expense management provider for wireless solutions and T-Mobile partner that is interested in the Kickback program, said Natasha Royer Coons, managing director for San Diego-based TeraNova.

"That's a great incentive and I would be interested in that program for sure. Most companies' data consumption is sky rocketing. We are doing everything we can do optimize and control, but if there is data left over to get a credit back on, that's great," she said.

TeraNova operates using a "buffer zone" for its customers to help these users avoid wireless overage costs each month. Getting paid back on the buffer by T-Mobile could let TeraNova pass the benefits down to customers by building bigger buffers for customers with larger data requirements, Coons said.

Mike Sievert, T-Mobile's Chief Operating Officer, joined Legere onstage to announce that T-Mobile is also vowing to never change the price of any customer's wireless plan without the user's consent, calling the move "the uncontract."

"Your plan, your price, it can't change unless you change it," Sievert said.

All changes are slated to go into effect on January 22.

Legere also revealed ahead of the provider's conference call scheduled for February that T-Mobile has added 2.1 million net customers, including 1.2 million postpaid and 541,000 prepaid net adds in Q4 2016, marking 15 consecutive quarters of more than 1 million net adds. 2016 was also T-Mobile's third straight year of more than 8 million net adds.

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