Bonnie Cha

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T-Mobile’s Next Act: 200MB Free Data Monthly for Tablets, Plus Trade-In Program

In its latest move to be the “Uncarrier,” T-Mobile today announced new plans for tablets that include a free monthly allotment of 4G LTE data for the life of the product, and the option to purchase a new device in monthly installments with no money down, including the iPad Air and Nexus 7.

Calling it “Tablets Un-leashed,” the company said that customers who buy a tablet through T-Mobile will receive 200 megabytes of free 4G LTE data every month for as long as they own the tablet. The program is open to anyone with a T-Mobile-compatible tablet, even if you’re not a T-Mobile customer.

But, unlike its smartphone plans where the carrier slows down data speeds once you’ve hit your limit, the data connection will be cut off on tablets if you blow through the 200MB before the end of the month.

T-Mobile said that once that happens, a screen will pop up asking you if you’d like to purchase one of T-Mobile’s daily, weekly or monthly passes, or you can continue to use the tablet over Wi-Fi and wait till the next month for the data to kick in again. Pricing starts at $5 for a daily pass for 500MB of 4G LTE data, and $10 for a weekly pass of one gigabyte of 4G LTE data. Those with a T-Mobile voice plan have the option of 500MB of 4G data for $10 a month.

During a conference call, T-Mobile CEO John Legere noted that about 90 percent of consumers are using tablets over Wi-Fi and that’s largely due to the high prices of current data plans.

“We believe it’s time that tablets operated the same way that smartphones do, and should be connected all the time,” said Legere. “We’ve been waiting for a while to get in this game and stop this silliness of restricted and unclear data plans offered by the other carriers.”

To help entice customers, T-Mobile is offering a number of its tablets for $0 upfront, with the cost of the device spread out over two years. With this offer, a customer can buy the new iPad Air (16GB) for 24 equal monthly payments of $26.25, while the iPad mini with Retina display costs $22.07 per month over two years. The Google Nexus 7 and Samsung Galaxy Tab 2 10.1 are some of the other tablets being offered in this introductory deal.

T-Mobile didn’t say how long this deal would last, but hinted that it would continue to offer some of its tablets for $0 upfront.

Finally, T-Mobile also announced a new trade-in program under which anyone can bring in a tablet in working condition to receive a discount on a new device.

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