This past week, Verizon unveiled their own unlimited data plan, going head-to-head with Sprint and T-Mobile. Meanwhile, AT&T opened up their unlimited data plan to all of their customers. Which means that all four national carriers in the US now offer unlimited data. But just how unlimited are these plans, and how do they stack up to one another? Well we've compared the four plans, and they are all mostly the same, but there are a few key differences that you should know about.
First of all is the price. Sprint's $50 price is usually $60 and as March 31st, 2018, it'll go back to that price. T-Mobile, Verizon and AT&T's prices are their normal price. And it's worth noting that these prices do not include the price of your smartphone, nor do they include taxes and fees, except for T-Mobile. When it comes to family plans, Sprint and T-Mobile has the best prices, but then again Verizon and AT&T do have better coverage. Now while they all offer "unlimited data", that doesn't mean that it is truly unlimited. Each carrier has a set point where they may throttle your speed for "Network Management". This is essentially to make sure that everyone has a great experience on the network and that you aren't hogging all of the bandwidth. For Verizon and AT&T, this is 22GB, Sprint does this at 23GB and T-Mobile at 28GB. Now just because you hit these caps doesn't mean you'll be throttled automatically, this is only if you are in a congested area, and while it is congested.
Video quality has been a big part of these unlimited data plans. Sprint and T-Mobile first unveiled their unlimited data plans because they could limit your video quality and save a boat load of bandwidth. However now, T-Mobile and Verizon will be streaming your video content at the resolution that the provider is streaming at. But, on T-Mobile, you can lower the resolution, which will allow you to get faster download speeds of this video - it's also helpful if you're in a congested area or an area with slow speeds. AT&T caps video at 480p and Sprint at 1080p. With Sprint you can upgrade and get the full resolution though.
Then there's international travel. This is where most overages come into play. AT&T, T-Mobile and Verizon include calling, texting and data in Canada and Mexico in this plan. Verizon does limit you to 500MB of LTE data though. When it comes to other countries, only T-Mobile includes it. Others you need to add it on. T-Mobile does give you unlimited 2G data in over 140 countries. Finally, and perhaps the most important part of these plans, mobile hotspot. Sprint, T-Mobile and Verizon all give you 10GB of 4G LTE speeds, and then throttle you afterwards. Sprint throttles all the way down to 2G, while T-Mobile and Verizon only throttle to 3G speeds. AT&T doesn't offer mobile hotspot at all.
That's really a pretty general rundown of the new plans from the four competitors - all of which tweaked their plans this past week. It's going to be interesting to see how these plans change over the next few months, as competition gets even tougher.