T-Mobile US turned the screw on rival Verizon Wireless, announcing it will expand the services available on its unlimited tariff on the same day Verizon backtracked by launching its first such package since 2011.

Deutsche Telekom’s US subsidiary accused Verizon of caving in by launching its unlimited offer via a statement announcing it will add HD video and a 10GB mobile hotspot to its T-Mobile ONE tariff from Friday 17 February. The operator said Verizon was forced down the unlimited track by a recent OpenSignal report which stated the two operators are now neck-and-neck in terms of the availability of their respective 4G networks.

“I don’t blame Verizon for caving. They just lost their network advantage, and they know it”, T-Mobile president and CEO John Legere (pictured) said.

T-Mobile said Verizon reversed course on its “previous rhetoric about unlimited data.” The comment could be a reference to comments made by Fran Shammo, Verizon’s former CFO, who in September 2016 said the operator would not launch an unlimited tariff and predicted rivals providing such tariffs would suffer.

Legere said Verizon’s back is “against the wall”, and T-Mobile effectively pushed its rival into rethinking its view of unlimited offers: “This is what the un-carrier does – drag the carriers kicking and screaming into the future. Next up, we’re going to force them to include monthly taxes and fees. Mark my words.”

Additional taxes and fees were a core element in a T-Mobile comparison of its ONE service with Verizon’s unlimited offer. While Verizon priced its unlimited offer at $80 per month for a single line, T-Mobile said the true cost of its rival’s service is closer to $85 when average tax charges are added. In contrast, T-Mobile ONE subscribers pay $70 per month all in for a single line.

Family packages – comprising four lines – are priced at $160 per month by T-Mobile and $180 per month at Verizon, though again T-Mobile reckons the true cost of Verizon’s service at closer to $200 per month including taxes.

OpenSignal battle
OpenSignal recently announced Verizon remained the US market leader in terms of 4G network availability, but noted T-Mobile homed in on its rival during Q4 2016. The research company found a Verizon LTE signal 88.2 per cent of the time and T-Mobile 86.6 per cent in research based on 4.6 billion network measurements.

Verizon responded by questioning the validity of OpenSignal’s data, and continued to press its network advantage in its unlimited tariff announcement, with Nancy Clark, head of marketing and sales operations at Verizon, saying subscribers “don’t have to settle for unlimited data on a discount network with low-quality video.”