T-Mobile pushes paid data plans, makes room for bigger families

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T-Mobile would really like more people to pay for tablet data, and is sweetening the deal for those who do.

While T-Mobile is still including 200MB of tablet data with any Simple Choice smartphone plan, for an extra $10 per month users can add a tablet data plan equal to what they get on their phones.

In other words, if you have a 3GB per month smartphone plan, you can get an extra 3GB of tablet data for $10 per month. If you have a 5GB smartphone plan, you get 5GB of tablet data for the same $10. T-Mobile will start offering this package on September 3.

AT&T, Sprint and Verizon, by comparison, don't provide any free tablet data, and users must pay $10 per month to tap into their shared data allotment.

This isn't the first time T-Mobile has been aggressive about tablet data plans. Earlier this year, users could buy any 4G LTE tablet for the same price as the Wi-Fi model. For iPad buyers, that meant an instant savings of $130. T-Mobile was also temporarily giving away 1GB of free tablet data through the end of this year. Both of those offers appear to have been discontinued, however.

Along with the new tablet plans, T-Mobile also announced a tweak to its family plans, letting families connect up to 10 lines instead of the previous five lines. T-Mobile family plans start at $50 for the first line, $30 for the second line and $10 for each additional line.

While it's nice that T-Mobile is keeping the deals coming, the various limited-time offers can lead to confusion. The carrier was so eager to bite back at Sprint's new $60 unlimited plan, for instance, that it undercut itself with a $45 per month Simple Starter plan with 2GB of data. That's $5 cheaper than T-Mobile's $50 per month Simple Choice plan with 1GB of data, but it doesn't include unlimited data at slower speeds once you hit your limit, and doesn't allow for the tablet data deals mentioned above. These things get complicated to explain, so eventually, T-Mobile may want to stop grasping for headlines and get back to simplifying pricing.

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