T-Mobile’s new MAX plan showcases 2.5 GHz

T-Mobile has enough 2.5 GHz spectrum deployed that it’s ready to roll with a new price plan that takes advantage of all that extra capacity. It’s called Magenta MAX, a 5G smartphone plan designed to show off what 5G can do for consumers.

“We’ve reached a point in the deployment of our Ultra Capacity where we feel comfortable being able to launch a plan like this and open it up for everybody,” said Matt Staneff, EVP and chief marketing officer at T-Mobile. “We’re able to start providing incredible value back to consumers” through the amount of data they can get through the new rate plan.

The “un-carrier” uses the Ultra Capacity moniker to refer to 5G services that use its 2.5 GHz or millimeter wave frequencies. T-Mobile offers its Ultra Capacity service in areas that cover more than 100 million customers. Its 5G Extended Range covers 280 million people using 600 MHz spectrum.

The new plan offers unlimited data over 4G and 5G – based on what technology is available in a given geographic area – as well as video streaming with ultra-high definition (UHD), up to 4K resolution and Netflix on Us on all MAX plans, including single-line customers.

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Importantly, it’s not charging more for 5G, something rivals AT&T and Verizon tried to do early on. The MAX plan starts at $85 for a single line plan.  

But wait a minute. Isn’t there an expectation that wireless carriers will need to get something back in return for all those investments in their 5G networks?

“I can’t speak for the other guys, but what I can tell you is we have a fully funded business plan. That’s one of the beauties with the merger we did with Sprint,” and the synergies that result, Staneff said. “We feel great about our ability to continue to provide customers with incredible value, which means great prices and increasingly, more and more access to the network.”

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T-Mobile is describing it as a plan that means “you can’t be slowed down based on how much you use,” a reference to throttling, a practice wireless carriers use to manage traffic on their networks. However, Staneff said he wouldn’t necessarily use that word.

They prefer to call it network prioritization management, which is used to keep the network safe under stress. With the 5G era, “we’ve got a lot of capacity,” and it doesn’t have to be as worried about managing the network traffic like it did in the past.

While Verizon led in LTE, T-Mobile has been touting its network prowess with 5G, and it expects to steal that crown from Verizon. But it takes a while for consumer perception to catch up with network upgrades, even if it has made considerable progress in that department.

Staneff declined to predict how long it’s going to take to fix that, but news like that announced today demonstrate how it’s uniquely positioned to launch a plan like this. “AT&T and Verizon can’t launch this plan. Their network doesn’t have the capacity to handle it in the marketplace,” he said, adding that he thinks it will lead to a snowball effect. “We’re very focused on this,” and existing customers are starting to see the difference, both among T-Mobile and Sprint-branded customers.

T-Mobile has boasted about how it thrives especially in a heavy switching environment, which has been subdued during the Covid-19 pandemic. Now it’s upping the ante by offering a new “Zero Cost to Switch” deal for people who just upgraded to a new 5G smartphone but are on rival carrier plans. New customers can keep their eligible phones and phone numbers, et cetera, and T-Mobile will cover costs, up to $650 per line on eligible phones, and waive the costs associated with switching over devices.