FAQ: T-Mobile's new phones, LTE in seven cities, and no-contract plans

Details of T-Mobile's new sales and network plans are disclosed in a Webcast featuring CEO John Legere today (see video below)

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Where is T-Mobile launching LTE? The seven cities named Tuesday are Baltimore, Houston, Kansas City, Las Vegas, Phoenix, San Jose and Washington. Service is coming soon to New York City, Legere said.

In all, the carrier is planning to provide LTE to more than 200 cities, with a total of 200 million people served by year's end.

How does LTE compare to HSPA+? T-Mobile has HSPA+ widely available on its network, and in some cases it can reach a theoretical speed over HSPA+ 42 of 42 Mbps. T-Mobile has said its HSPA+ has been clocked in the field at nearly 20 Mbps. LTE is generally seen on other carriers at 10 Mbps on downlinks, although this speed varies widely.

How important are these announcements for T-Mobile. Carrying the iPhone may be most important for T-Mobile. Legere even noted, "We are thrilled at the partnership with Apple and it was such a huge void in the device portfolio."

With the iPhone price of $579 and T-Mobile's unlimited data rate of $70 a month, Legere said that the overall savings to a T-Mobile customer over two years would be $1,000 over what AT&T charges. He didn't explain his math.

What would AT&T charge? An AT&T individual plan costs $90 for unlimited voice and texting, with $30 additional for 3 GB per month of data, a total of $120, which would be prorated to $110 if AT&T offered a 2 GB data plan.

That $110 represents a $40 difference per month from T-Mobile's pricing, which amounts to $960 over two years. Adding in the $70 savings over Apple for an unlocked phone, would bring T-Mobile's savings to $1,030.

What about Verizon? Verizon offers unlimited voice and texting with 2 GB for $70 under a prepaid plan. That plan comes with various prepaid phones including the HTC Rhyme for $129.99.

Verizon also has some pre-paid plans of $50 a month for unlimited voice, text and data, but limits customers to a group of lower-end phones that cost $10, such as the LG Cosmos2 and the Samsung Gusto.

Sprint has an Everything Data plan, for $80 a month for unlimited data and texting, but 450 voice minutes.

How important is LTE to T-Mobile? With 33 million subscribers making it the nation's fourth largest carrier, T-Mobile is also hoping to grow that number. With "screaming fast" LTE and HSPA+, T-Mobile will provide some opportunity for growth, Legere added. Sprint, Verizon and AT&T have already launched LTE, and Verizon has the largest LTE network in the world so far.

Legere also said he spends one hour a night listening to customer care complaints, and even offered his email address to hear more, apparently since he's not busy enough: john.legere@t-mobile.com.

Matt Hamblen covers mobile and wireless, smartphones and other handhelds, and wireless networking for Computerworld. Follow Matt on Twitter at @matthamblen, or subscribe to Matt's RSS feed . His e-mail address is mhamblen@computerworld.com.

Copyright © 2013 IDG Communications, Inc.

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