Unlimited data plans where you get to talk, text and surf endlessly are back in vogue, and Verizon is the latest to join the race. Also, with each carrier doing their best to woo customers, the devil, if it can be so said, lies in the fine print.
Mentioned here is what each of America’s big four carriers actually offers with their unlimited data bouquets with respect to key aspects of their individual plans.
Data limits: Though technically described as unlimited, the data plans at LTE speeds obviously come with a set limit beyond which, either the speed gets throttled, or your online requests are prioritized to avoid network congestion. Here is the list of the carriers in ascending order of their data generosity.
- AT&T: 22 GB
- Verizon: 22 GB
- Sprint: 23 GB
- T-Mobile: 28 GB
However, apart from the data limits, the network quality is unfortunately not the same everywhere. For instance, a research study conducted by mobile analytics firm OpenSignal found Verizon to have the best signal strength and has a much wider coverage than the rest.
T-Mobile too impresses with its speed but has lesser coverage compared to Verizon. AT&T makes a good average so far as both speed and coverage is concerned while Sprint is at the bottom of the heap.
Features (HD video, Hotspot): These are the other aspects where the individual offers can vary widely. First, let’s discuss about mobile hotspot data again in ascending order of the data limits.
- Sprint: 5 GB
- T-Mobile: 10 GB
- Verizon: 10 GB
- AT&T: Mobile hotspot can be availed of only when connected to a car.
So far as video streaming quality (HD or SD) is concerned, Verizon is the first to offer HD video as default. T-Mobile has been quick to also upgrade to HD video streaming to match Verizon’s offer even though it initially offered video of lower resolution.
Sprint offers SD quality video as part of the standard package but has the option to upgrade to high definition video at $75 per month.
AT&T too offers SD quality video as standard though there is the option to upgrade to HD at no extra cost.
Cost: This obviously is one of the most important factors that can make or break any deal. Read on to find out how each of the carrier’s unlimited plans fare against each other. All prices mentioned are applicable for a single line:
- Sprint: $55 per month (excluding taxes) with a further $5 discount if you opt for AutoPay.
- T-Mobile: $70 per month (including taxes) with again a $5 discount if you opt for AutoPay.
- Verizon: $80 per month (excluding taxes) and will also offer a $5 discount if you AutoPay.
- AT&T: $100 per month though the plan actually comes as part of DirectTV/U-verse service, which means you effectively end up paying $150 every month (excluding taxes).
Additional Line: Of course all the carriers will be all too eager to offer you additional lines for a price though the rates definitely are lower for each extra line that you opt for before hitting a limit.
Mentioned below are the rates applicable for each extra lines.
- Sprint: $55 for the first line, $40 for a second line, and $30 for each line from three through five. Figures mentioned are monthly rates.
- Verizon: $80 for the first line, $70 each for two lines, $54 for three lines each and $45 each for four lines. Again, all prices are applicable per month.
- T-Mobile: $100 for two lines, $47 each for three lines, or $40 each for four lines. All prices charged per month.
- AT&T: $100 for the first line per month, with each line extra costing $40 per month.