The Full Monty tariff, offering 'all you can eat' calls, texts and internet useage, could spark price war among networks.
T-Mobile has thrown down the gauntlet to the other mobile providers after launching a phone tariff offering unlimited calls, texts and internet access.
Prices for the Full Monty tariff start at £36 a month, although customers have to sign a two-year contract. Those taking out the plan can take their pick of all the handsets in the T-Mobile range, including iPhone, Android and BlackBerry phones. The firm insists the tariff will not be subjected to a fair use policy, meaning those who sign up really will have unlimited internet, texts and calls.
The deal reverses the trend of recent years. The original iPhone came with free internet access, but more recent tariffs have set data download limits, often as low as 500MB a month.
T-Mobile UK's Ben Fritsch said the mobile network developed the plan on the back of increased sales and demand for data-hungry smartphones. "Over the past two years we have seen a rise in mobile internet use of over 250%, which reflects the consumer trend of being 'always on' wherever they are. However, consumers also want to retain a more personal level of communication by calling or sending a text," he said.
Customers on the plan will also be able to use their phone for tethering (using it as an internet connection for a laptop or tablet) at no extra cost.
The tariff will be available, including on a 16GB iPhone 4S for £99 upfront, from £36 a month for two years with unlimited internet access, texts and calls to other T-Mobile customers, but a limit of 2,000 minutes for calls to other networks. If you think you will exceed that you can go completely unlimited across all networks for £41 a month.
The same iPhone from O2 on a two-year contract would also cost £99.99 upfront, but comes with 600 minutes, unlimited texts and just 500MB of data a month. The only other operator to offer unlimited internet data at a similar price is Three.
The Full Monty will also be available on the Samsung Galaxy SII and HTC Sensation XE with no upfront cost on the £36-a-month plan.
Before you sign up, be aware there are still a few things for which you will be charged: calls to international numbers and those beginning 08 (including 0870) or 070 are charged at 40p a minute; and picture messages are not included in the text allowance.
Dominic Baliszewski from Mobilechoices.co.uk says smartphone users should check their usage before rushing to switch.
"The plan will provide excellent value for customers who make a lot of calls, send a lot of texts and do a lot of downloading. Chewing through 500MB to 1GB of data in a month is easy to do with an iPhone," he said.
"However, anyone who sends 300 texts and makes 100 minutes of calls a month will almost certainly be wasting their money. Also remember that other providers may follow suit and launch their own 'all you can eat' tariff to compete with T-Mobile, so it could be worth waiting to see if a price war erupts, lowering costs even more for consumers."