Samsung Memoir (cell phone side)
(click for larger image)
The plans initially will be rolled out as a test promotion to customers in San Francisco, and they could make their way across the nation depending on how they're received. The fourth-largest U.S. mobile operator will also offer customers a $135 rebate if they switch from a competitor.
There are a few conditions, though, as the unlimited plan will only initially apply to T-Mobile customers who have been with the carrier for 22 months. For customers with data and texting plans, this new plan effectively lowers their monthly unlimited bill to $85 a month from $100. By contrast, Sprint Nextel offers an unlimited plan with voice, data, and text messaging for about $100 a month.
With nearly 33 million wireless subscribers, T-Mobile trails Sprint, AT&T, and Verizon Wireless by tens of millions of customers. Because the unlimited plan does not affect new customers, the move may not poach many customers from its rivals, but it could help T-Mobile retain subscribers. The carrier's churn rate, the rate at which subscribers leave, has risen over the last two quarters as many of its customers are hitting the end of their two-year contracts and leaving.
T-Mobile is also playing catch-up in the mobile data department, as it just started to deploy its UMTS/HSDPA network last year. But its 3G network is now available in more than 110 cities, and the carrier is releasing handsets like the T-Mobile G1 and the Samsung Memoir that can take advantage of the high-speed mobile data.
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