T-Mobile says its offer of free data is open to anyone with cellular-capable tablet

NEW YORK, N.Y. – T-Mobile says its offer of free data for tablet owners is just that — free.

The wireless carrier launched its free data for life offer on Thursday. The service is limited to 200 megabytes of high-speed data a month, or enough data to upload about 800 Instagram photos or listen to more than three hours of streaming music, according the company. But it is open to iPad owners or anyone else with a cellular-enabled tablet that works on T-Mobile’s network, even if it’s not a T-Mobile tablet.

But there was some confusion. A computer glitch resulted in some people being told that the service would actually cost $10 per month.

T-Mobile US Inc. Chief marketing Officer Mike Sievert said Monday that the glitch has since been fixed.

He said T-Mobile’s idea is to get more people to try its data network in hopes that they will like it and eventually switch their cellular phone service over to the company or buy more data.

Most people buy tablet computers that access the Internet using Wi-Fi only. Models with 4G LTE cellular access typically cost $100 to $130 more and many people also are reluctant to buy cellular-enabled tablets, because of worries about potential monthly data service costs.

Tablet owners do need to buy a SIM card, which makes the tablets compatible with the network, for about $10, .

Sievert said the T-Mobile offer is designed to eliminate those fears and prompt more people to buy LTE tablets. Customers who already pay for a T-Mobile data plan will receive the 200 megabytes on top of their regular monthly allotment, Sievert said.

T-Mobile shares edged down 13 cents to $27.76 in afternoon trading.