T-Mobile is departing from the industry’s use-it-or-lose treatment of high-speed wireless data allocations with a new program that allows subscribers to carry over their unused portion from one month to the next.
The unused high-speed data will automatically roll into a personal Data Stash, where it can be banked for use for up to a year. The service, which begins in January, is offered at no additional charge for those T-Mobile customers who buy Simple Choice plans that offer additional high-speed data.
“This year on Twitter, customers asked the carriers to create a program to roll data forward more than 40,000 times,” T-Mobile Chief Executive John Legere said in a statement. “So this isn’t rocket science. It’s just that we seem to be the only company in this industry that cares enough to listen.”
T-Mobile’s “un-carrier” initiatives — this one is dubbed Un-carrier 8 — have prompted other wireless operators to follow suit, as it did with the introduction of Simple Choice plans, which ripped up the yearly contracts.
But telecom industry analyst Jennifer Fritzsche noted that while T-Mobile continues to make headline-grabbing announcements intended to rattle the industry, the offering isn’t exactly unprecedented.
Sprint, for example, accomplishes the same goal with its unlimited data offer.
“Sprint’s message is a lot easier and less confusing to potential customers,” Fritzsche wrote this morning. “In regard to the two largest carriers and impact on them, a case could be made that AT&T and Verizon have already gotten ahead of this move by offering greater data in each of their buckets.”
T-Mobile launched the initiative in a live interview hosted by Yahoo Tech’s David Pogue — which a spokesperson acknowledged could not be viewed by some people using Apple’s Safari browser. Oops!
Here’s the fine print: The Data Stash program is available to subscribers of individual or family plans that offer three gigabytes or more of high-speed data on their smartphones, or to customers who pay for one gigabyte or more of wireless connectivity for their tablets. There is no limit to how much data can be deposited into the Data Stash program, and the carrier will start everyone off with a gift of 10 gigabytes of high-speed data.
Unlike the other three national wireless operators, Fritzsche noted, T-Mobile does not allow the pooling of family of data in its family plan — each member in a family of four has his or her own allotment. One heavy data user in the family cannot dip into anyone else’s data bucket.
This article originally appeared on Recode.net.