If you've wanted an Unlimited Data plan, get it now while you can, because all four carriers now once again offer unlimited data. In this article we'll compare them and look at the restrictions each carrier placed on them.
Intro: AT&T's Unlimited Plan was revived in January 2016. As of 2/17/17 anyone can sign up for the plan. Previously you had to have DirecTV or U-Verse TV to sign up for the plan, but after Verizon reintroduced its unlimited data plan on Sunday, AT&T announced Thursday that anyone will be able to get their unlimited data plan.
Restrictions: AT&T's "Stream Saver" which reduces video quality to standard definition (480p) is enabled by default. You can turn it off (or back on again) to enjoy HD (or higher) quality video. You can call AT&T or use the My AT&T app to turn the feature off. AT&T reserves the right to de-prioritize your data speed over other users if you use more than 22 GB a month and connect to a congested cell tower.
Mobile Hotspot: Mobile Hotspot usage is prohibited unless your device is a connected car.
Pricing: The first line is $100.00. Each additional line is $40.00. The fourth line is free (bill credits may take two cycles to be applied). Smartphones or tablets can be added to the plan.
Intro: The only carrier that's always had an Unlimited Data plan in some form is Sprint. It's network coverage is dramatically smaller than the rest of the competition, but it provides the best value by far.
Restrictions: As of 2/17/17 Sprint allows to video stream in HD (1080p) but no higher, caps music streaming to 1.5mbps and gaming to 8 MB/second. Sprint reserves the right to de-prioritize your connection over other users if you use more than 22 GB per month and connect to a congested cell tower.
Mobile Hotspot: Sprint will give you 10 GB of 4G LTE Hotspot data per month. If you use that up, you'll see your speed reduced to 2G until your next bill cycle.
Pricing: Sprint is offering a limited time promo where the first line cost $50.00, the second line costs $40.00 and lines 3-5 are free. Starting in March of 2018 you'll have to pay full price. Smartphones can be added to the plan. If you want to add a tablet to Sprint's Unlimited Plan you'll have to purchase it directly from them and agree to a 24 month EIP Plan. Sprint doesn't allow tablets purchased from another retailer to be added to their Unlimited Plan.
Intro: The carrier that's gone rogue and dragged the rest of the industry along with it offers an unlimited plan that evolves as customers needs change. They call the plan T-Mobile ONE, and it is updated quite frequently to address complaints. This article will address the plan that will take effect on 2/17/17.
Restrictions: T-Mobile ONE includes HD (or higher) video in the base price. Customers will have to flip a switch in the T-Mobile app to activate the HD quality video. Unlike previous T-Mobile ONE plans, once customers activate HD streaming, they won't have to turn it on again unless they choose to turn it off. If customers don't activate the HD quality, they will receive video at 480p. T-Mobile reserves the right to de-prioritize you connection if you use more than 28 GB of data per month and connect to a congested cell tower.
Mobile Hotspot: T-Mobile ONE includes 10 GB of 4G LTE Hotspot data for free. If you use more than 10 GB they will slow the Hotspot down to 512kbps. Customers can pay $25/month more and get Unlimited Hotspot Data at 4G LTE speeds.
Pricing: T-Mobile ONE costs $70 for the first line, $50.00 for the second and $20 for each additional line up to nine lines. Each line after that will cost $30. Unlike all other carriers, this price includes taxes and fees. Customers must enroll in AutoPay. If they choose not to enable AutoPay they'll be charged $5/more per line. If a line on the account uses less than 2 GB in a billing cycle, T-Mobile will give a $10 discount in the form of a bill credit. This discount applies to all lines on the account, so if two lines use less than 2 GB, T-Mobile will give you a $20 discount.
Intro: Verizon, the largest wireless carrier in America in terms of both subscribers and coverage by leaps and bounds, insisted for years customers didn't need unlimited data. It even disconnected grandfathered accounts that used more than 200 GB/month. However in a sudden 180° turn it reintroduced its unlimited data plan last week. And it didn't hold any punches when it did, going all in on the holy grail plan for data hogs.
Restrictions: Uhh, unlike the other carriers, there aren't a whole lot. The only "restriction" is like with all other carriers, customers who use more than 22 GB a month and connect to a connect cell tower may see reduced speeds until they move into a non congested area at which point data speeds will return to full speed. Otherwise customers may use their data without restrictions, even when they stream video.
Hotspot: Customers can use 10 GB of 4G LTE Hotspot data for free each month. If they exhaust that, speed will be reduced to 3G for the remainder of the billing cycle.
Pricing: The first line is $80. Line 2 costs $60. Lines 3-10 cost $20/each. Customers must enroll in AutoPay, paperless billing and pay with their checking account or debit card or pay $10.00 more per month.