By the Blouin News Technology staff

T-Mobile’s bait for prepaid users: Facebook

by in Personal Tech.

MARTIN BERNETTI/AFP/Getty Images

MARTIN BERNETTI/AFP/Getty Images

The number 4 U.S. wireless carrier has spent a lot of money and a lot of time in 2013 trying to ensure its future does not reside in that fourth slot permanently. Its latest effort will reach what was once considered a niche sector of the wireless market: prepaid customers.

T-Mobile’s GoSmart service will provide unlimited Facebook access to its customers regardless of whether or not they have mobile data plans at no cost. This move will make T-Mobile the first carrier to offer a data-consuming application accessible with no charge or requirement to have purchased a data plan prior. While certainly this offer is attractive for the mid-tier market — exactly where T-Mobile is aiming — how will this help make T-Mobile more popular? The company is likely hoping that this new feature to the prepaid service will encourage customers to upgrade their plans as the free service will perform at slower speeds. And perhaps once users with no data plans have access to Facebook, they’ll seek to gain access to the rest of the internet, thus purchasing data plans.

Add this innovative move to T-Mobile’s laundry list of untraditional improvements this year. It began the year by labeling itself as the “uncarrier” — a term used to denote its less rigorous contract rules and less strict policies for wireless customers. Since that brand-altering announcement in January, it has augmented its strategy to appear different than the other U.S. carriers — namely it’s top three competitors: Sprint, AT&T, and Verizon. The company has continued the build-out of its 4G landscape and employing the spectrum from its hefty MetroPCS acquisition that occurred over the last year, and it has altered its data plan structure to waive international roaming fees.

Perhaps by reaching its prepaid customers, it will also be creating more enticing services for a sector of the wireless market that has thus far gone rather unconsidered as a profitable margin.