Apple already spoiled the surprise some, but T-Mobile is today talking up its latest "Uncarrier" move: it's offering free data to tablet owners, and the brand new iPad Air and iPad mini with Retina display are both included. During a conference call (with a simultaneous Q&A session on Twitter), CEO John Legere and CMO Mike Sievert highlighted the 200MB of data that tablet customers will receive beginning November 1st as yet another bold new initiative from the carrier — one that both executives insist their rivals have no real counter for. "You don't have to be a customer of ours at all," Sievert said. "You don't have to have any kind of paying relationship with us at all. We're just happy to give you 200MB of data for the life of that device as long as you own it."
We have unleashed TABLETS! No strings attached, no commitments, no 2yr service contracts, 200MB FREE 4G data – current customer or not!— T-Mobile (@TMobile) October 23, 2013
"We believe it's time that tablets operated the same way that smartphones do and should be connected all the time," Legere said. "We've been waiting for a while to get in this game and stop this silliness," he said, referencing the "unclear" and "restricted" shared data plans from other providers. "Starting November 1st, your T-Mobile iPad works right out of the box," Legere said. Any tablet that is compatible with T-Mobile's HSPA / LTE network will be eligible for the free data. T-Mobile is also rolling out new one-time "passes" with larger data allotments for customers that may run through more. $5 will get you 500MB that can be used only during a single day, with $10 getting you 1GB to spread over a week.
Tablets were designed to be un-tethered, but almost 90% are WiFi only because people worry about big carrier bills. Stop the silliness!— T-Mobile (@TMobile) October 23, 2013
To help with its mission of getting more tablets on its network, T-Mobile is now offering every tablet in its lineup at $0 down as part of its monthly payment plans. Monthly costs will vary depending on which device you choose, of course. The iPad Air starts at $26.25 per month for the 16GB model, with the 16GB iPad mini with Retina display running $22.08 monthly. Opting for iPads with larger storage will require a down payment at the time of purchase. Sievert hinted that the $0 down deal may only run for a limited time. Consumers can also now trade in any existing tablet toward the purchase of a newer device.