According to TmoNews, Americas magenta-est carrier (and don't you forget it!) will unveil some changes to the company's JUMP! device installment plans on February 23rd, and while they're heavy on "unlimited" language, the plans are actually getting a bit more restrictive for customers.

First, in the "good news" departments, tablets are joining the JUMP! family of devices, so you'll soon be able to finance a tablet from T-Mobile. Which if that's something you, you know, want, sounds good. However, T-Mobile already offers the iPad Air and iPad Mini Retina on JUMP!... so I'm not sure what new tablets they're adding, but I'm guessing it's going to be more.

The next piece of news is definitely a bit of marketing speak - JUMP! upgrades are now "unlimited." The claim is that you can now upgrade to a new device whenever you want, irrespective of how long you've had your current JUMP! phone or tablet. This is as opposed to the previous model which required customers to wait 6 months after adding their JUMP! device, then trade it in for a new phone, up to twice a year.


The catch? You have to have paid at least half of the device's total MSRP before you can upgrade again. So, you can upgrade whenever you want, just as long as T-Mobile's gotten enough money out of you. The new plan will effectively make many customers wait longer to upgrade for a couple of reasons. First, JUMP! device payments don't usually start until the two to three months after you've had the device, meaning it takes a while to even start making a dent in that MSRP. Second, JUMP! devices take a long time to pay down - 24 months if you choose to utilize the longest financing term making the minimum payments with $0 down on the device. You wouldn't be eligible for a no-cost upgrade until 12 months into the term. It's more often than every 2 years, but it's still obviously a worse deal than what T-Mobile was offering before.

The reasoning for this change is, I think, pretty obvious: customers changing phones every 6 months after only putting a couple hundred dollars into the MSRP isn't exactly going to turn T-Mobile a profit, even if they are selling the used phones back to refurbishment companies. So, while the language of these tweaks will doubtless be awash in John Legere's typical UNLIMITEDNESS, the changes to the JUMP! plans are actually cracking down on customers who sought to take the greatest economic advantage of the 6 month upgrade period. Now those customers who choose to put $0 down and opt for the longest payment period will need to put in 12 months of device payments (vs months of service, which would be 13-14 months because of the delay in payments starting) if they want optimal value out of the plan, versus the 6 months of service they had to put in previously.

Users of the old-style JUMP! plans will be grandfathered in under the old 6 month rule, though presumably if you end your JUMP! plan at any point, you'll be out of luck and forced into the new plan.

So, what say you? Worse? Better? Who cares? I guess we'll find out if these rumors hold water on the 23rd.