AT&T and Verizon Adjust Prepaid Unlimited Smartphone Plans, Add More Value

AT&T and Verizon are changing their official prepaid options - both will add value and expand the available prepaid choices.


AT&T - New Unlimited Option

(3/12/18) AT&T has revamped both of its prepaid unlimited plans from being throttled to 3mbps always, to having access to high-speed data - but always subject to network management.

AT&T added a second unlimited option to its prepaid lineup - for an additional $15 a month, it removes the 3Mbps throttle and adds 6GB of hotspot data and unlimited HD video streaming (once the Streamsaver feature is turned off).  The new plan is priced at $85 ($75 with the autopay discount). Here is the new option compared to AT&T's existing prepaid plans:



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Analysis

The new unlimited prepaid option removes most of  the annoying features of the standard prepaid unlimited plan - for only $15 more per month, it's a good value. Both plans are still subject to network management at all times. It comes close to AT&T's flagship post-paid plan, Unlimited Plus, in terms of features. The postpaid Unlimited Plus plan is another $15 more and comes with 10GB of hotspot data, free HBO, and a $15/month bundling discount on DirecTV or DirecTV Now - and is not subject to network management until 22GB.  For those who don't care about DirecTV or HBO and can live with 6GB of hotspot data on a plan that is always subject to network management, the new prepaid unlimited plan is a good option.

However, an important caveat is that the prepaid unlimited plans are smartphone only plans. Unlike the post-paid Unlimited Plus, you cannot add a hotspot to this plan and get unlimited hotspot data. Hotspots on AT&T prepaid are still limited to a small number of tiered data plans, there is no unlimited option. This means the prepaid unlimited plan remains a much less attractive option for multi-line accounts that want to add an unlimited hotspot.

Verizon Prepaid Changes

Starting today (February 20th, 2018), Verizon will roll-out the following changes to its prepaid plans:



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  • Adds a budget $30/month option with 500MB of data.
  • Adds unlimited 3g hotspot data to the unlimited plan (Verizon defines 3G as 600kbps).
  • Reduces the prepaid unlimited plan base price from $80 to $75.
  • Adds TravelPass eligibility for prepaid plans - for $5 a day, customers can use their plan data in Canada and Mexico.
Analysis

These are welcome changes that add value across the board. The unlimited plan previously came with no hotspot data - now it will be $5/month cheaper and will come with unlimited 3G hotspot data.

Summary

Overall, it's always good to see cellular providers improving the value of their services.  Too often, providers do the opposite.  While these aren't ground-breaking changes, they do add value and could be attractive options in a mobile internet arsenal.

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