Only in the confusing realm of smartphone data plans can 'unlimited' not really mean unlimited. We started to see the big carriers cut back on all-you-can-eat data a few years ago, and T-Mobile was no different. The nation's smallest national carrier relied on vague language and semantics to justify its continued use of the word 'unlimited.' Now it looks like T-Mobile is going to finally offer real unlimited data again.


The new unlimited 4G data plan will be available starting on September 5, and it does away with all the caps and throttling that angered power users. T-Mobile will be charging a downright reasonable rate of $30 per-month for those on the classic plans, and just $20 for anyone on a value plan. The only bummer here is that the new plan cannot be combined with hotspot usage. If you want to tether to your phone (legitimately), you'll still have to get the 5GB or 10GB hotspot package, which won't include unlimited data on the phone.

T-Mobile's current data plans come with 2GB of full-speed data, after which speeds can be knocked back to 2G for the rest of the billing cycle. That is technically unlimited data – most of it is just very slow. With this in mind, the new unlimited data plan seems like a big step up for those that need it.

Update: It's confirmed! T-Mobile just sent us a press release confirming the aforementioned leak.

T-Mobile Unleashes Unlimited Nationwide 4G Data

Starting Sept. 5, T-Mobile will be the only carrier with a nationwide 4G network to offer unlimited nationwide 4G data

BELLEVUE, Wash. — Aug. 22, 2012 — T-Mobile USA, Inc., today announced an industry first — a truly Unlimited Nationwide 4G Data plan. Featuring no data caps, speed limits or bill shock, as well as fast, dependable nationwide 4G coverage, T-Mobile’s new Unlimited Nationwide 4G Data plan offers the ultimate worry-free experience. The new plan is designed to satisfy both data-hungry customers who want to experience all their smartphones are capable of and those wanting the peace of mind of never having to keep track of their data usage.

Today’s smartphones offer amazing experiences, and consumers are increasingly relying on them for everything from navigation, entertainment and shopping to just staying connected. With the introduction of the Unlimited Nationwide 4G Data plan, T-Mobile® is the only U.S. carrier to empower customers to do what they want, when they want, with their smartphones by making fast, nationwide 4G data accessible for everyone without limits and at a great value.

“We’re big believers in customer-driven innovation, and our Unlimited Nationwide 4G Data plan is the answer to customers who are frustrated by the cost, complexity and congested networks of our competitors,” said Kevin McLaughlin, vice president, marketing, T-Mobile USA.  “Consumers want the freedom of unlimited 4G data. Our bold move to be the only wireless carrier to offer an Unlimited Nationwide 4G Data plan reinforces our value leadership and capitalizes on the strength of our nationwide 4G network.”

For customers seeking an unlimited experience on their smartphones, T-Mobile offers several ways for new and existing customers to take advantage of its Unlimited Nationwide 4G Data plan. New customers can purchase any smartphone in T-Mobile’s robust lineup of innovative devices or bring their own compatible smartphone and have access to a worry-free unlimited data experience on T-Mobile’s fast nationwide 4G network. Current T-Mobile customers on Classic or Value plans can simply upgrade their existing service by adding an Unlimited Nationwide 4G Data plan.

The Unlimited Nationwide 4G Data plan will cost $20 per month when added to a Value voice and text plan or $30 per month when added to a Classic voice and text plan. For example, a single line Value plan with unlimited talk and text combined with unlimited nationwide 4G data will cost $69.99 or a single line Classic plan with unlimited talk, unlimited text and unlimited nationwide 4G data will cost $89.99.

Available starting Sept. 5, T-Mobile’s Unlimited Nationwide 4G Data plan will provide smartphone customers with uncompromised, dependable access to data on the blazing-fast speeds of T-Mobile’s nationwide 4G network. The Unlimited Nationwide 4G Data plan will be available at T-Mobile retail stores, on http://www.T-Mobile.com/unlimited-data-plan and through select dealers and national retail stores.

[Tmo News]

Ryan Whitwam
Ryan is a tech/science writer, skeptic, lover of all things electronic, and Android fan. In his spare time he reads golden-age sci-fi and sleeps, but rarely at the same time. His wife tolerates him as few would.

He's the author of a sci-fi novel called The Crooked City, which is available on Amazon and Google Play. http://goo.gl/WQIXBM

  • Kenny O

    I wonder if the Hot Spot on my unlocked Galaxy Nexus would still work with the unlimited plan?

  • spydie

    "T-Mobile's current data plans come with 2GB of full-speed data, after which speeds can be knocked back to 2G for the rest of the billing cycle. That is technically is unlimited data..." uhmm, try proofreading. That makes no sense.

    • Ryan

      Sure it does. It's an unlimited data plan. You get the first 2GB at full speed, then are throttled after that.

    • Doan

      Throttling is still unlimited data. People don't seem to grasp that.

      • Ryan

        You're right, but they don't point that out in their advertising, they are mis-leading people to think you get unlimited 4G

        • Doan

          They aren't misleading people to think they get unlimited 4G.. they do get unlimited 4G. They just get it at a lower speed after a certain amount.

          • Mike

            If it's a lower speed then it isn't 4G. It's unlimited data, sure, but not at @ 4G speed so it is misleading.

          • Doan

            Any connection can be throttled, including 4G. Getting a throttled unlimited 4G connection, is still unlimited 4G.

          • Guest

            I stand corrected. Thanks for the clarification.

          • Mike

            I stand corrected. Thanks for the clarification.

          • Rallias

            4G is a transmission method, not a speed specification. 4G is defined as a capability minimum, but not an actual available bandwidth requirement.

  • master94

    The return of unlimited data. Happy days are here again :) Hopefully, but I doubt it, VZW and At&T will follow.

    • http://www.facebook.com/Shinakuma George Millhouse

      no they wont they just released new plans...dont count on it t-mobile is not a threat to them

      • http://www.facebook.com/Terry.wise.jr Terry Wise

        they are, that's why AT&T was about to buy up TMO. VZW and AT&T will have to watch their back if TMO is about to do this.

  • http://www.anivision.org/ Christopher Bailey (Xcom923)

    Win For T-mo bad for sprint, it's really the only reason I'm still with them. well that and I just got 2x Galaxy S3s

    • fixxmyhead

      why do u need 2?

      • http://www.anivision.org/ Christopher Bailey (Xcom923)

        One for me and one for my wife

        • fixxmyhead

          ok u made it sound like u got two just for the hell of it

          • http://www.facebook.com/Shinakuma George Millhouse

            silly assumption

          • fixxmyhead

            Idk some people are crazy and have like 3 flagship phones. Idk why u need that many but they do

          • John O’Connor

            ^------ I can't imagine who

  • Kenny O

    I saw the fine print, but I figured that would be on a phone they actually put out and control the software. My G-Nex is rooted and running JB Rom, and soon will be running CM10

  • Kenny O

    That's my thinking exactly, I guess it's worth a try. If I get a nasty gram from TMO then I guess I'll pay up for the Hot Spot feature. It's still cheaper than any other of the major carriers and 5 gb is plenty for my needs.

  • Lexster

    Good for T-Mobile. Hopefully this will cause the other two Ma Bell carriers to fall in line as well. I'm hoping this leads to a mass exodus from Verizon and AT&T.

    • Matthew

      Verizon and AT&T will probably never go back to unlimited data. They only care about money could care less about their customers needs.

      • Lexster

        I'm not talking about customer's needs. But, if enough people go to T-Mobile because of their unlimited data, then they would be forced to rethink their ridiculously expensive data capping plans.

        • http://www.facebook.com/Shinakuma George Millhouse

          um t-maybe had unlimited before ..didnt dent att or verizon..its about the coverage which t-maybe doesnt have any where near the two big carriers

  • JR

    I'm planning on doing the same thing. I've tried and tried to get through to Verizon about them killing their unlimited 4G for grandfathered users (I'm one of those that bought two Thunderbolts on release day), and they're hiding behind 'corporate policy'. After almost fifteen years of being a Verizon customer, I'm done with them. As soon as my contract is up, I'm out.

    • http://www.facebook.com/Shinakuma George Millhouse

      so you thought you would be the only one grandfathered when everyone else was told no?? self important are you? enjoy your coverage on t-maybe

  • aerojad

    Wondering if any of this effects pre-paid peoples.

  • JR

    I think the caveat is that Sprint's plan is HSPA+, while this is LTE. Sprint is rolling LTE out, but they're at least two years behind everyone else.

    • Darklordxnew

      You have it backwards. Tmobile uses HSPA+ and Sprint is starting it's LTE rollout. Tmobile hasnt even started to roll out LTE

      • Rudy Belova

        but on a positive side, t-mobile HSPA is far more widespread than sprint LTE and t-mobile 3g is a LOT faster than sprint 3g. It all depends on the coverage where you need it.

    • fixxmyhead

      u have it backwards like the other guys said but i take it u really dont know much. anyways tmobiles hspa is waaaaaaaaayyyyyy faster than sprints joke 3g speeds and more widespread than there LTE which is in like 5 markets or something like that. ill gladly take tmobile anyday plus when they roll out LTE then what? sprint will be on shitty cdma 3g with slow speeds and tmobile will at least have fast hspa+ as good backhaul not some slow ass connection like sprint plus they will have LTE two fast networks compared to sprints

    • http://www.facebook.com/people/Marco-Stickman/611650016 Marco Stickman

      Sprint as a service and as a corporation suck monkey balls. Sprint is one of the worst corporations period, as well as a shitty service provider. Hate Sprint. DIE Sprint!

  • Cuvis

    I'm on T-Mo's 2GB plan with no tethering right now, and I've been able to tether using Android's built in functionality (on both the G2 stock rom and custom roms) without issues. I rarely do, though; it's more of an emergency solution for me.

  • yarrellray
  • Matthew Fry

    How does this work with the family plan? Is it 30 per handset or is it 30 for the family?

    • http://www.facebook.com/Shinakuma George Millhouse

      yeah they are only going to charge you 30 for the whole family....share what you are smoking

  • http://profiles.google.com/samgarfield Sam Garfield

    I'm really into the $30 pre-paid plan with 5Gb of 4g data ("unlimited 3g"). Once I start hitting the 5gb ceiling a lot I'll think about paying more than double for a truly unlimited 4g plan.

  • out in the boondocks

    This is disappointing to anyone in a rural area that tries to use their phone to tether with a desktop computer....always a catch.

    • http://www.facebook.com/Shinakuma George Millhouse

      you want it pay for it its a phone not your home internet

  • http://www.facebook.com/Shinakuma George Millhouse

    im sure there is a clause about abuse..there always is

  • http://twitter.com/PepperCop1 PepperCop

    No way T-Mob can actually do this, unless they've greatly increased the capacity of their network, which they haven't. I think this is just a ploy to get more customers. They'll impose the caps as-needed instead of after a certain amt. of data usage. That way, they can argue your slow speeds are due to traffic on the network, busy time of day, etc. They can also string customers along with the promise of network upgrades "coming soon." Sprint has pioneered this Unusable Unlimited bait-and-switch strategy. The sh*t works.

  • http://www.facebook.com/judysmith282 Judy Mohr Smith

    What is the difference between the unlimited nationwide 4G at $30 and the next one up with the hotspot at $35? I don't really know what hotspot means.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Marco-Stickman/611650016 Marco Stickman

    I just got it a few days ago, where I live I do not realize full 4G speeds, and even so, in about three days I used up the 5gb data just updating a game or two on Steam and watching a bunch of youtube videos. I wanted to see what I could do on normal PC use with 5 gb of data and was curious as to how the data performance is when throttled.

    So, to tell the truth, I could easily use up 5gb of data in an afternoon, so that plan, even with the optional 10gb is entirely impractical for a time period of 30 days on average. The speeds of data that I am seeing when throttled, are slow very slow even for regular web surfing. They are inadequate for streaming any type of media, and even at a low resolution of 360 x 240, youtube videos stop often to re-buffer, photos and images about 100KB take about 20 seconds or longer to display.

    So you are either ultimately restricted to 5gb or 10gb of data at 4g "full speed" whether or not full speed is realized at your phone, then you have internet access that is almost unusably slow, or you cannot employ and enjoy a wi-fi hotspot or tether with a PC. Even if you don't tether or use the hotspot feature, the phone(s) comes with numerous streaming applications built in that will draw heavily on the data stream such as T-Mobile TV, movie apps, games apps and other free stuff that have to be downloaded, so there is another drain on the limited data allotment.

    If someone rides the bus or train daily to work and the commute is 20 - 30 minutes each way or longer, they will need to be disciplined if they watch movies or video clips, or they will most definitely run out of data before the billing cycle ends.
    I went with the LG Optimus L9, BIG bright clear screen, dual-core proc, etc, nice enough phone, the data signal is way more reliable than the phone signal, the phone drops calls often when receiving a weak signal, but then again, the Metro PCS Galaxy Indulge didn't even get a signal in my apt, let alone allow me to call and talk to anyone for even the few seconds the L9 does. I live in a somewhat dead zone up in the hills of Oakland, CA. The 4G signal is pretty strong and somewhat reliable, but it fluctuates and has a good deal of latency, so it is not optimal, even when tethered, as opposed to broadcasting wi-fi, for gaming, at least not where I live.
    I will be opting out of my data plan for sure, the data transmission, though not quite flying at "4G" speeds where I live, was adequate if nowhere near impressive. Even though both the data and phone signals were better than Metro PCS, I must admit that I am pretty disappointed with the deal as a package. I probably would not have been if the throttled speed of the data was not practically unusable. My idea was to have my phone Im texting internet all through one device with one somewhat affordable monthly bill, about $100, sadly that will not be feasable through any plans T-Mobile has available, because the 10gb plan is the most data they offer. If they were to offer truly uncapped unlimited unthrottled data, I have no doubt that the price would be astronomical.
    The most disappointing aspect about the whole experience is the HUGE deception in the FALSE claims of "unlimited" data. The data is indeed limited, to not enough of it, and, as I said, it is just about useless when throttled.
    How is a cap on 4G usage and then a severely throttled data stream considered unlimited?
    I hope that gives some kind of overview of the pros and cons as I experienced them.