Yes this is true, however you can activate it at a direct T-Mobile store if you'd like. It's called a Flexpay Monthly account. The $45 quote from your post is $30 for 300 minutes with unlimited weekends and $15 for unlimited text messaging. T-Mobile only requires you to add the data plan to your account if you buy a data device on a 2 year contract.
That would be $65 a month which breaks down to $30 for the 300 minutes and $35 for data and messaging. There is also the control charge of $5 a month if you don't sign up for Easypay at the time of activation.