T-Mobile quietly kills 'Free Data for Life' giveaway for new tablets

Blame unlimited data.

t-mobile nyse
Credit: T-Mobile

In the age of high definition video streaming, you can't get very far with 200MB of mobile data. That appears to be the reason T-Mobile quietly killed its Free Data for Life program on Sunday.

Originally introduced in 2013, Free Data for Life gave tablet users 200MB of free data for the life of their device. As of Monday, T-Mobile is not accepting new devices on the Free Data for Life program. Anyone whose tablet is still pushing pixels can keep on getting their free 200MB every month as usual, however.

Instead of Free Data for Life, T-Mobile is directing users to its unlimited data offerings. "When we launched Free Data For Life in 2013, 200MB of high-speed data was a lot," T-Mobile told TmoNews, which first spotted the policy change. "Today...Customers who have T-Mobile ONE can add unlimited LTE data on a tablet for just $20 a month with autopay."

The story behind the story: It's not surprising to see T-Mobile dump such a minor program. The carrier is right that 200MB doesn't get you very far when 1080p screens and streaming HD video are standard. Plus, carrier programs tend to change substantially every few years. In 2007, AT&T's unlimited data was the big deal thanks to the iPhone, while other carriers had standard data caps. Then nearly every company went to various data buckets shared across multiple devices, with unlimited data on the way out. Now we're coming back around to unlimited data yet again.

Perhaps when 5G (or whatever replaces LTE) appears we'll see unlimited data disappear once more as the carriers look to increase revenue to pay for all those network buildouts.

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