Why T-Mobile May Just Have Changed the Tablet Market

Just in time for the iPad Air, T-Mobile is taking its "un-carrier" strategy to tablets. And tablet makers may love the wireless carrier for it.

T-Mobile's research shows that nearly 90 percent of all tablets sold only connect over Wi-Fi. That's at least partly because a data package can run up a monthly bill few customers are willing to pay. That means tablet-makers are selling fewer high-margin devices that can use 4G LTE. T-Mobile could help change that with its new initiative, called T-Mobile Un-leashed.

"Tablets are supposed to be un-tethered like smartphones, but it hasn't worked out that way because people know carriers will charge them an arm and a leg for mobile data," said John Legere, president and CEO of T-Mobile. "Carriers figured out a long time ago that they could make money -- a lot of money -- by forcing customers into restrictive, overpriced data plans. We changed it for smartphones and we're changing it for tablets."

Too Good To Be True?

T-Mobile is the only major national wireless provider to dish out free data for life on tablets. T-Mobile is offering tablet owners up to 200 MB of free 4G LTE data every month, even if they're not yet a T-Mobile customer. That much data translates to sending about 800 Instagram photos, more than 2,500 text e-mails or streaming 200 minutes of music.

Customers who want more data can choose another plan with no annual service contracts, no data overages and a 4G LTE network. T-Mobile offers daily, weekly and monthly options for adding 4G LTE data. Daily passes include unlimited data, including 500 MB of 4G LTE data starting at just $5. The weekly passes include unlimited data with 1 GB of 4G LTE data for $10.

For T-Mobile voice customers, always-on tablet plans start at $10 a month for...

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