Although there has been a bit of confusion surrounding when T-Mobile’s 5G network will first be available to customers, the is less ambiguity surrounding the details of 5G plan pricing. T-Mobile is known for helping to re-popularize unlimited data plans in the United States, and that unlimited streak will continue with 5G availability.
T-Mobile CTO Neville Ray made it clear that not only will its 5G plans be unlimited – like its current 4G LTE plans – but that there won’t be any pricing premium compared to its existing service. That’s right, whether you have a 4G LTE smartphone or a newfangled 5G device, you’ll still pay the same price. So, for a single line, that means that customers are looking at a cost of around $70 per month for unlimited data (a la T-Mobile One).
For comparison, AT&T’s nascent mobile 5G wireless network access cost $70 per month, but you’re capped after just 15GB. Given the higher download speeds afforded by 5G and the fact that customers will likely take full advantage of this, it’s likely that they will blow through that allotment relatively quickly.
If T-Mobile is allowed to go through with its acquisition of fourth-place wireless carrier Sprint, the company has vowed that it won’t raise plan pricing for a period of three years. That promise was made in a letter [PDF] to the Federal Communications Commission (FCC). However, all bets are likely off once that grace period expires (pending approval of the merger).
T-Mobile has argued that a tie-up with Sprint is essential to improving its 5G rollout, providing faster wireless speeds to more Americans, and competing with the heavy-hitting competition like Verizon Wireless and AT&T.
While T-Mobile has committed to having at least some 5G availability during the first half of 2019, it isn’t exactly rushing to push the green “Go” button. "Software quality was incredibly poor, propagation was very limited, and the number of customers that you could support on a given radio was de minimis," said Ray. "There's been software coming out every two to four weeks, and it doesn't mature until the end of this quarter."