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Getting prepaid data on T-Mobile

For a while, T-Mobile prepaid featured just one data plan. For a dollar per day you could get unlimited data and messaging on the Sidekick plan. From what I gathered, the plan worked not only with Sidekick devices, but also with other data phones, such as unlocked iPhones. Last summer, however, T-Mobile discontinued service for iPhones on Sidekick plans. I’ve also heard users of other smartphones complain about a lack of support on the Sidekick plan. T-Mobile does have a prepaid data plan, and while it can be a good deal it doesn’t cover nearly enough devices to be viable right now.

PhoneNews.com lays out the options, and the picture becomes a bit clearer after reading their article. You can get data access on any 2G feature phone offered through their prepaid program for 99 cents per hour. That seems like a decent deal if you use it correctly. Unfortunately, T-Mobile does not support this plan for 3G postpay phones that customers are using in prepaid. That, of course, makes the plan much less valuable.

Apparently, you can purchase the plan on your 2G feature phone, and then swap your SIM into a 3G postpay phone and still receive the service. That’s an extra step, but perhaps a worthy one if this plan works for your usage patterns. This I did not know. That’s excellent news — at least until T-Mobile catches on and starts putting the kibosh on that. Hopefully they don’t and simply extend the 99 cent plan to all phones on prepaid plans.

The other point they make: the plan is not available for the Nokia Nuron, which is sold through Costco stores for $119.99. Unfortunately, you cannot get the 99 cent per hour data plan with this phone either, despite its prepaid nature. As PhoneNews explains, though, you can still do something with it.

So, what can the Nokia Nuron do? While T-Mobile won’t comment on it, you do get access to the Ovi Store and Ovi Maps without data usage. Of course, Ovi Store apps you download can’t access the internet, but if it’s Ovi branded, it can get on the web. T-Mobile appears to have opened a proxy for Ovi services data-free when using a Nuron.

As PhoneNews notes, prepaid data is a work in progress at T-Mobile. Hopefully they work out the kinks and start offering the 99 cent plan to all comers. I think they’ll find many interested customers.