T-Mobile USA has launched a new unlimited mobile plan available to customers outside of a contract in a bid to compete with prepaid rivals such as Leap Wireless and MetroPCS, reports Reuters. The new plan will offer unlimited talk, text and Web surfing for US$79.99 a month to customers who do not want to sign up for a long-term contract, which typically lasts 2 years. It will also offer a US$50 per month unlimited service for non-contract customers that only includes voice calls. According to Reuters, the new deal represents a 20 percent discount on T-Mobile’s standard unlimited monthly fee for contract customers, though subscribers to the new deals will be required to pay a higher fee for a handset.

Some analysts had reportedly expected the Deutsche Telekom-owned operator to announce a US$50 per month unlimited voice and data service plan for all customers, sparking fears of a price war. Instead, they were broadly supportive of the new strategy. “In our opinion, the new plans are more benign than investors’ initial fears and could relieve some pressure on wireless stocks,” Piper Jaffray analyst Christopher Larsen said in a research note. According to Reuters, Verizon told analysts on its third-quarter conference call yesterday that its mobile unit – market-leader Verizon Wireless – was unlikely to respond to T-Mobile USA’s new offer with a similar one of its own. The introduction of unlimited monthly prepaid plans in the US was pioneered by Sprint subsidiary Boost Mobile, which launched a US$50 monthly plan in January. The plan has since been replicated by a number of its prepaid rivals and has led to a fierce price war in the prepaid low-end segment.