T-Mobile offers free iPad data plan — yes, free as in beer

T-Mobile tweeted this picture of a promotional poster teasing other carriers.

After teasing an iPad-related sequel to its "Uncarrier" mobile strategy, T-Mobile announced Wednesday that it would offer "free data for life" on cellular-enabled iPad Airs and a number of other tablets. Sure, it's only 200 megabytes per month — but the price is right.

The news broke cover Tuesday in the form of a leaked price sheet for iPad mobile plans, on which "free" stood out prominently. However, T-Mobile did not confirm the details until an event Wednesday morning, at which CEO John Legere explained the new plans.

Basically, when you pick up a cellular-enabled iPad Air, you'll have to choose a carrier, then a plan. If you go with T-Mobile, you'll have the option to pay nothing at all, forever, but still get 200 MB of data every month to do with what you please.

You don't need to buy the device from T-Mobile, and you don't need to be a customer already. Just get your hands on a tablet that works on T-Mobile's network and you can bring it in to have it activated. It's free, and free as in "free beer," not "free speech" or "free of obligations."

There's a minor catch: You can't use that 200 MB for roaming data, so you'll be stuck to areas with T-Mobile coverage. And of course if T-Mobile went out of business 15 years from now, the deal would end.

That's not a problem with paid plans, though. If you're going on a trip to Barcelona, you'll need to sign up for a regular plan — though in keeping with T-Mobile's easy-going new rules, you can cancel at the end of the month with no fees or anything.

We'll be comparing the quality of iPad mobile plans later, but for now the T-Mobile free one is the only one of its kind and a pretty safe bet for anyone that doesn't have strong ties to other carriers.

Devin Coldewey is a contributing writer for NBC News Digital. His personal website is