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Wireless Wars Heat Up with Even More Unlimited Data Plans

T-Mobile and Sprint began yet another duel yesterday by unveiling rival wireless plans with unlimited data usage. Their announcements came just one day after AT&T unveiled new wireless service plans it said will eliminate data overage charges for customers.

Starting at $70 per month for one line, the new T-Mobile One plan comes with several caveats, including slower data speeds after customers exceed 26 GB in a month. The new offering is set to become available for new postpaid customers starting September 6, while prepaid customers will have to wait, although T-Mobile didn’t say how long.

Sprint’s new plan, Unlimited Freedom, becomes available today. It starts at $60 per month for one line, with Sprint noting that “data deprioritization applies during times of congestion.”

T-Mobile: Targeting a ‘Major Pain Point’

In a video blog accompanying his company’s announcement, T-Mobile president and CEO John Legere (pictured above) said the new T-Mobile One plan is aimed at alleviating a “major pain point for wireless consumers.” Citing data indicating that U.S. customers spend $30 million “overbuying data,” Legere also pointedly criticized AT&T’s recently “jacked-up” prices and Verizon’s “mafia fees” for data.

As with T-Mobile’s Simple Choice plan, T-Mobile One customers who exceed 26 GB of high-speed data in any one month “may notice relatively slower speeds but only at specific times and places that may experience high network demand or congestion,” the company said. The new plan also limits speeds for other devices tethered to a customer‘s smartphone via a mobile hotspot to 2G speeds, or around 128 Kbps.

For customers who want service for more than one phone, the T-Mobile One plan is $50 per month for a second line and $20 per month for up to eight additional lines if autopaid. DVD-quality video streaming at 480p is unlimited, but high-definition streaming will cost an additional $25 per month per line.

Sprint Announcement on T-Mobile’s Heels

Sprint’s news about Unlimited Freedom came out just just hours after T-Mobile’s announcement yesterday. The company said its new plan “beats T-Mobile and AT&T’s unlimited offer — only available to its DirecTV subscribers — while Verizon doesn’t even offer its customers an unlimited plan.”

Unlimited Freedom will cost an additional $40 per month for a second line, additional lines will be priced in increments of $30 per month for up to 10 lines. While data consumption is unlimited, Sprint said it will optimize some streaming, with a resolution of 480p for video, gaming speeds of up to 2 Mbps and music streaming at up to 500 Kbps.

“While we initially questioned using mobile optimization for video, gaming and music, the decision was simpler when consumers said it [was] ‘practically indistinguishable’ in our tests with actual consumers,” Sprint president and CEO Marcelo Claure said in a statement.

Sprint’s announcement also included a swipe at T-Mobile’s Binge On program that lets customers stream video content from preferred partner companies and not have that data count toward their monthly caps. “Sprint doesn’t limit customers to ‘free’ streaming for only chosen content providers,” the company said.

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