T-Mobile will start paying you for unused data

LAS VEGAS — T-Mobile is changing the way it's billing you.

CEO John Legere announced some "new rules" for the carrier's plans at an event during CES 2017. The biggest change, which it plans to implement later in January, is the introduction of a program called KickBack, which will credit customers for data they don't use.

If a customer uses less than 2GB per line, they can get a credit of up to $20 for unused data — again, per line. The amount will be credited on the customer's next bill. The program goes into effect Jan. 22 and will show up on February bills.

Legere also promised to further simplify T-Mobile's data plans, or plan, since going forward there's going to be just one. T-Mobile One, which launched in August last year, will now be the only plan that T-Mobile offers to new customers. Existing customers will be able to keep the plans they're on, but anyone signing up for T-Mobile after Jan. 22 will be limited to T-Mobile One.

Next, T-Mobile is launching All In, which is basically "what you see is what you get." T-Mobile says it won't include any taxes or fees in customer bills, and it also committed to not raising the cost of its current plans to integrate the costs. The T-Mobile One plan will still cost $40 per line.

Finally, the carrier said it wouldn't increase any customer's bill without consent, calling it the "Un-Contract." It accused its competitors of doing so repeatedly over the past several years, sometimes moving customers to higher-cost plans when the plan they are on is no longer offered.

T-Mobile brought some star power to its event: Saturday Night Live Weekend Update anchors kicked off the event, stamping their usual brand of late-night humor on the festivities.

"Samsung couldn't make it to Vegas because they're not allowed on airplanes," joked Colin Jost. The jokes quickly hit harder against T-Mobile competitors, with one line implying all of Hillary Clinton's missing emails were customer service messages from Verizon.

Legere spent a great deal of time congratulating himself and his company for the turnaround T-Mobile has mounted since the attempted merger with AT&T failed in late 2011. At the time T-Mobile was losing customers, had no LTE and didn't have the iPhone. Today, it has a growing customer base, offers the iPhone, and many of its series of "un-carrier" moves — like abolishing contracts and creating ways for customers to upgrade devices more often — have become the norm in the industry.

In his typical irreverent fashion, Legere made some predictions for 2017. He said he expected a new major carrier to emerge and suggested it would be Google, citing the Pixel phone and its Project Fi wireless service as evidence. He also said T-Mobile would be the first carrier to demonstrate high-speed LTE at 1Gbps speed.


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