T-Mobile 'taking the gloves off' with new 4-line $100 unlimited plan

T-Mobile today introduced its first unlimited plan since merging with Sprint, with an offer of four lines for $100 per month, including 5G access for those with compatible phones.

The deal, available starting Friday for a “limited time this summer,” comes as T-Mobile prepares to retire the Sprint brand and bring it under the Magenta umbrella on August 2. Without autopay the offer costs $5 more per month/per line.

T-Mobile is sweetening the deal with 5G devices, offering four Samsung Galaxy A71 5G handsets through bill credits and eligible trade-in, when customers pay $30 per month/per line.

In a video T-Mobile CEO Mike Sievert called the price points “unheard of” for unlimited access to 5G. Sprint already offered a similar price point but those included contracts and "step ups" that increase customers’ bills by as much as a 60% increase in a year, according to T-Mobile.

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Bringing competition to the industry had been a main focal point for T-Mobile throughout its two-year effort to win approval for its combination with the nation’s fourth largest carrier Sprint. And Sievert said T-Mobile is following through.

“We said T-Mobile and Sprint together would create a ‘Supercharged Uncarrier’ and that together we’d have the scale to supercharge competition and compete like never before. Well I’m here to say that starts now,” said Sievert in the video. “Today we’re taking the gloves off and making good on that commitment to rev up competition.”

Because of data prioritization, during congestion Essentials plan customers might have slower speeds, with data speed further slowed after hitting a 50 GB per month threshold.

In terms of the new unlimited offer, T-Mobile called out its main target Verizon, citing the carrier’s least expensive 5G unlimited plan Do More Unlimited, which costs $180 per month for four lines, plus taxes and fees. Customers on AT&T and Verizon’s unlimited plans with 5G don’t pay for it. Still, Verizon’s free 5G access is for an unspecified limited time, and includes a $10 bill credit for 5G. The day after this story originally published, AT&T announced it will add 5G to its least expensive unlimited plan, charging $140 per month for four lines ($35 per line/per month) starting in August. Verizon doesn't offer 5G access on its lowest tier unlimited plan.

Sievert stressed the new unlimited offer is meaningful because of T-Mobile’s superior 5G coverage over rivals.

Third-party tests from Opensignal have ranked T-Mobile’s 5G at the top for availability, on average spending 22.5% of the time connected to 5G. The operator primarily uses low-band 600 MHz spectrum that delivers more widespread coverage but with speeds largely similar to 4G LTE. It’s available in nearly 6,000 cities covering 225 million people. However, T-Mobile has been moving quickly to integrate networks activate 2.5 GHz spectrum from Sprint, which is currently live in a handful of markets.

RELATED: AT&T, T-Mobile outshine Verizon in Q2 mobile performance – Ookla

Customers with mid-band 5G are getting average download speeds of more than 300 Mbps, and peak speeds of 1.2 Gbps, according to T-Mobile.

Verizon, in contrast, has used high-band millimeter wave spectrum for limited rollouts in major cities. The 28 GHz spectrum that Verizon uses delivers much faster speeds than 4G LTE, but the signals are short range. As T-Mobile was clear to point out, some tests have shown only 0.4% availability for Verizon’s 5G.

On the new unlimited offer customers will also get Scam Shield, which T-Mobile introduced last week in its latest “un-carrier” move. It targets scam and robocalls at no extra cost, something T-Mobile challenged rivals to do. Notably, AT&T and Verizon were quick to note their own respective strides in robocalls and options for free call filtering.  

RELATED: Verizon, AT&T knock T-Mobile’s robocall claims

So far, T-Mobile has also unveiled free service for first responders, and a more affordable Connect wireless plan.

Once the new T-Mobile retail and branding shift takes place next month, legacy Sprint and T-Mobile customers will have access to “MANY more stores,” according to T-Mobile. Fierce has previously reported on major carriers, including T-Mobile shuttering retail stores. In that case, in part due to overlap from the merger, but also as a trend accelerated by the COVID-19 pandemic.

“In some ways it also signifies the beginning of new T-Mobile because it signifies the coming together of one team,” Sievert said of the combination of all legacy Sprint and T-Mobile under the new T-Mobile brand.

Updated to add information on AT&T's new 5G offer and clarify that Verizon's least expensive unlimited plan doesn't include access to 5G.