T-Mobile makes it easier (and more expensive) to get online without a data plan

Starting today, T-Mobile is offering its “pay monthly” customers a easy way to get online – normally, getting online requires a data plan, but with their new “Mobile Web Pay Per Use Plan”, you can add a data option, and pay only for what you use. Getting online is as simple as going to to any web page using your mobile browser, and accepting the terms and conditions. At the end of the billing cycle, T-Mobile will round up your usage to the nearest megabyte, and add the cost to your bill.

So far so good – the bad news is that this data plan is not available on phones that require a monthly web plan – which rules out any smartphone. The really bad news – the plan costs $1.99 per megabyte of data.

While this is quite a bit cheaper than international roaming data, two bucks per megabyte is a lot – the main page on Gadling is 320KB, so refreshing this three times will cost you two dollars. Downloading an MP3 song will cost about $10, plus the cost of the song itself.

So, while I’m glad mobile operators are starting to embrace pay as you go data, I’m not entirely sure this is the right direction. One day, I hope we can copy Europe, and buy $40 3G adapters with $4/daily unlimited data at the local grocery store.