T-Mobile at CES 2013: No-contract Unlimited Nationwide 4G Data, HD Voice and new Galaxy S III with LTEAlex Wagner - Deputy Managing Editor, News Desk
Tonight was T-Mobile's time to shine in the CES 2013 spotlight, and the carrier took the opportunity to announce several big pieces of news. There's an awful lot of news to digest here, so we'll break it all down bullet point style for you:
- First up, the magenta operator confirmed that it'll begin offering its Unlimited Nationwide 4G Data plan with no contract starting tomorrow, Jan. 9. The plan originally launched in September 2012, and since then T-Mo says that it's been extremely popular with consumers, with 46 percent of new subscribers in December 2012 signing up for the rate plan. The no-contract Unlimited Nationwide 4G Data plan will cost $70 per month and will give customers a bottomless bucket of data with no caps or overages. To help celebrate the arrival of the no contract Unlimited Nationwide 4G Data plan, T-Mobile will knock the price of the LG Optimus L9 down to $199.99 with no contract required on Jan. 9.
- T-Mobile also introduced a new program dubbed 4G Connect. The purpose of 4G Connect is to give customers a free T-Mobile data connection when they purchase a select laptop or tablet. The initial batch 4G Connect devices will include Windows 8 Ultrabooks from HP and Dell, like the HP Pavilion dm1 and Dell Inspiron 14z Ultrabook. T-Mobile says that more devices, including Windows RT units, will be introduced in 2013. As far as pricing goes, the cost for devices in the 4G Connect program will start at under $500. Those products will be given up to 200MB of free data access each month for up to two years. Customers that need more data can purchase it from T-Mobile at rates that start at $10 per gigabyte.
- The next big bit of news from T-Mobile this evening concerns HD Voice. T-Mo today announced that HD Voice is now available on its network, offering improved call quality to customers with devices that can access the service. T-Mobile devices that are compatible with HD Voice include the Samsung Galaxy S III, HTC One S and Nokia Astound. It's worth noting that both users on a call must have an HD Voice-capable phone to actually use the service.
- Speaking of network enhancements, T-Mobile has revealed that its refarmed 1900MHz HSPA+ network is now available in some new cities. The network, which will allow unlocked AT&T devices (including the iPhone) access to T-Mobile's HSPA+ service, is now available in Denver, Los Angeles, San Diego and Virginia Beach, Va. The 1900MHz HSPA+ coverage is now live in 46 metro areas and covers 126 million people.
- T-Mobile CTO Neville Ray went on to say that the carrier is "stepping on the gas" when it comes to its 4G LTE network. The magenta operator expects its LTE network to cover 100 million people by mid-2013, with that number growing to 200 million people by the end of this year. Ray told PCMag that markets like Las Vegas "are pretty much ready" to go live with T-Mobile LTE, adding that "another week or two" and T-Mo's LTE will be ready for action.
- There's also a small bit of T-Mobile hardware news this evening. T-Mobile CTO Neville Ray revealed to The Verge that his operator is planning to release a new version of the Samsung Galaxy S III that will feature support for T-Mobile's upcoming 4G LTE network. Details on the new model are light, and it's not known if it'll gain a new spot on T-Mobile's shelves or if T-Mo will simply swap out the non-LTE model for the LTE-enabled one. Ray also confirmed that the Galaxy Note II already contains support for T-Mobile's LTE network and that it'll require only a "small" update to enable LTE connectivity once the network goes live.
T-Mobile has been talking up its 4G LTE network for some time, but it's exciting to hear that we're finally just weeks from the service going live. The launch will mean that all four major U.S. carriers will have active LTE networks, and while T-Mobile has some catching up to do when it comes to LTE coverage, the fact that T-Mo expects to have 100 million people covered by mid-2013 and 200 million by year's end means that there will be plenty of folks enjoying T-Mobile LTE in 2013. Once we start hearing more about specific city launches and their timing, you can bet that we'll give you a shout. Get excited, T-Mobile customers!