Remember how important rollover minutes were in the days before unlimited calling plans? T-Mobile announced Dec. 16 that it will launch a similar program for data.
“It’s your data,” T-Mobile CEO John Legere said in a webcast. “What you don’t use, you don’t lose.”
“Data Stash,” as the initiative is called, will allow users to store unused data in a virtual piggy bank for up to a year. It launches in January, and will be offered free of charge to customers on Simple Choice plans of more than 3GB per month and tablet plants of more than 1GB per month.
And on top of allowing usage to roll over, the company is starting each user’s data bank out with a balance of 10 GB. Rollover data won’t be added to the balance until that free allotment is used up or expires (on Dec. 31, 2015).
This announcement marks another of T-Mobile’s efforts to brand itself as a mobile “uncarrier,” meaning the company supposedly bucks the stereotypical, exploitative policies of other mobile companies.
In his webcast interview, Legere said that the traditional data model — in which customers buy a set number of gigabytes to use in a single billing cycle — leaves consumers with no good options. They must either lowball their data needs and face exorbitant overage fees, or buy a larger allotment that they end up not fully using.
T-Mobile has already sought to distinguish itself from other national mobile companies by not charging data overage fees. However, it does severely restrict the speed of data transactions after users reach their monthly limits.
Is It New?
After the announcement, many sources rushed to combat Legere’s characterization of the move as being unprecedented. Regional carrier C Spire made a similar announcement regarding data rollover just last month, and Freedom Pop has implemented such measures as well. Verizon has experimented with data rollover, but only on its prepaid plans.
However, no major carrier has instituted data rollover on this scale.
It’s unclear whether the move is as novel as the company is claiming. But considering the rapid rise of mobile Internet usage — with about 50% of smartphone owners even reporting that their mobile device is their primary point of Internet access — it’s likely consumers won’t complain regardless.
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