By Ian Bush

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) – T-Mobile may be the smallest major wireless provider but it’s just made a big move to shake up how most of us pay for phones and cell service.

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Most Verizon, AT&T, and Sprint customers are tied down for a couple of years.

“The model’s broken, it’s too confusing,” are the words of T-Mobile’s CEO, told to us by CNET senior editor Jessica Dolcourt. “Let’s simplify things and let’s do away with the contract.”

Like prepaid services, T-Mobile now will make you pay up front for the full cost of a device, or you’ll put some money down and pay off the rest over time.

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“Over the span of two years, you can save hundreds of dollars.”

Since, Dolcourt says, T-Mobile charges less for service — unlimited minutes, texing, and data is $70/month.

For example, normal use of an iPhone 5 (which T-Mobile will get on April 12) will set you back a little over $2,000 on T-Mobile over two years, but it’s around $2,600 on Verizon and AT&T.

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The big two, though, say their data networks are faster; T-Mobile’s fastest 4G LTE isn’t yet available in Philadelphia.