Unlimited data plans saw a surge in popularity in 2017, with each and every major wireless carrier in the US offering one to users.
The trend was first kicked off by Verizon announcing the return of its unlimited price plan in February as an answer to T-Mobile and Sprint's unlimited offerings.
Within days of Verizon's announcement, T-Mobile and Sprint naturally followed by doing some revamping of their own. Finally, AT&T announced an unlimited offering of its own. Over the course of the year the plans have changed some, with carriers throwing in bonus offerings like free DirectTV Now or Netflix as means to entice more customers.
Wading through any wireless carrier's website can cause headaches and lead to frustration. The sites, it seems, are designed to be confusing when it comes to digging through price plans and reading the fine print.
Instead of doing it yourself, I've been clarifying and trying to get to the bottom of just what is included in each of the major US carrier's wireless plan. The chart below is updated each time a carrier changes its plan or announces new features.
|Throttling limit||50GB||Data can be throttled at any time when network is congested||23GB||22GB|
|Hotspot||Unlimited 3G speeds||Unlimited at 3G speeds||10GB|| |
|HD video|| |
|480p on phones, 720p on tablets||Yes (1080p)||Yes, with Stream Saver turned off|
|Bonus Features||Free Netflix with two or more lines||Verizon Up reward program||Hulu Limited Commercials||HBO subscription, $15 off DirectTV Now or DirectTV service|
|Expiration||No||No||January 31, 2019||No|
|Roaming||Unlimited 2G speeds outside of the US||None. Need to be on Beyond Unlimited plan|| |
|Unlimited talk, text, and data in Canada and Mexico|
T-Mobile: Two unlimited plans. T-Mobile One is listed above. For an additional $10 per month per line, T-Mobile One Plus adds unlimited HD video streaming, 10GB of LTE hotspot, and unlimited Gogo in-flight Wi-Fi.
Verizon: Two unlimited plans. Listed in the chart is Go Unlimited. Beyond Unlimited adds another $10 per line the monthly cost, except for the two-line plan where it's $15 per line. In exchange for more money, customers get "premium" unlimited data (throttling won't occur until 22GB of use), HD streaming, high-speed hotspot up to 15GB, unlimited data in Canada and Mexico (throttled after 500MB per day).
Sprint: The savings for lines three, four, and five aren't permanent. After the plan's expiration date, each line will cost an additional $30 per month.
AT&T: Two unlimited plans. Listed in the chart is Unlimited Plus. The Unlimited Choice plan limits users to a connection speed of 3 Mbps, doesn't include a DirectTV discount, offers no hotspot data, and streams in 480p. Unlimited Choice starts at $60 for a single line per month, and goes to $115 for two lines, $135 for three, $155 for four.
Editor's Note: This post was originally published on February 16, 2017. It has since been updated to reflect changes to wireless plans offered by the carriers.