AT&T Prepaid is AT&T's own prepaid brand - and they offer an unlimited tablet based plan that is of interest to nomads seeking unlimited data on a tablet device.
As of Feb. 12, 2020, AT&T pulled this plan from its website and it is no longer offered or available. It is not yet known if existing customers will be grandfathered.
Tablet Prepaid Unlimited Plan
Out of AT&T's prepaid options, the Tablet Prepaid Unlimited plan is the most interesting.
The plan is a session-based prepaid plan designed for tablets, cellular-enabled cameras, and gaming devices. It was first released in 2010 with the launch of the cellular iPad, and quickly retired (but customers were grandfathered in as long as they continued to renew).
AT&T brought the plan back in June 2017 and made it available to all tablet devices. Later, cellular-enabled cameras and gaming devices were added as options, but tablets remain the most useful device for this plan.
This is a great option if your needs can be met with a tablet.
The plan price was increased by $5/month in May 2019 and currently costs $40/month ($34.99 with auto-renew), here's our video coverage of it along with an overview of this plan:
Using the plan in a data hotspot device
These plans are specifically meant for cellular-enabled tablets, cameras, and gaming devices, however - the SIM card just works when placed in an AT&T compatible hotspot device or router and changing the APN settings to 'Broadband'.
Warning: Using a DataConnect Tablet plan SIM card in a non-tablet device is a clear violation of terms of service that is currently not being enforced by AT&T.
This enforcement could come in the future - so do be prepared should AT&T ever choose to enforce this policy and disable use of these SIM cards in non-tablets.
Because of this lack of enforcement, the plan has become very popular as an inexpensive unlimited data option in hotspots and cellular embedded routers. Simply activate the plan on your cellular enabled tablet and swap the SIM card.
There are even vendors who will set the plan up and transfer the plan to you for a fee, or IMEI generators/apps that will 'spoof' the identification of a tablet that works to activate the plan (but is most definitely another violation of terms of service.) You can find vendors on eBay, or any AT&T unlimited vendor promoting a $34.99/mo unlimited service.
For Our Comparative Pricing Grid:
Guide to Cellular Data Plan Pricing
We do not keep an AT&T Unlimited Tablet Plan in our testing arsenal.
Policies & Perks:
- Carrier Networks Used: AT&T
- Carrier Relation: Direct prepaid
- Plan Types Available: Tablet
- Device Types Permitted: Tablets, Cameras, Gaming Devices, Wearables.
- Use of SIM in a dedicated hotspot device is against AT&T's terms of service, but also not currently enforced
- Device Purchase Required: No, but can purchase a device
- Mobile Hotspot Use: No mobile hotspot use. However, many folks take the SIM card out of a tablet once activated and successfully utilize it in a hotspot device (this is very much against AT&T's terms of service.)
- Throttling: None
- Network Management: At 22GB
- International Roaming: US-only, but international data add-ons are available for some session-based plans (at an extra cost).
- Domestic Roaming: (unconfirmed) - AT&T Prepaid seems to include domestic roaming, and likely has similar limits to postpaid accounts.
- Plan Period: 30 days
- Data Roll Over: N/A
- Overage Charges: None
- Streaming: None - and stream saver not included (or needed).
- Unlimited Data: Yes
- AT&T Pulls Prepaid DataConnect $34.99/Month Unlimited Tablet Plan Posted on: February 13, 2020
- AT&T Increases Prepaid DataConnect Unlimited Tablet Plan by $5/month Posted on: April 18, 2019
- AT&T Brings Back Unlimited Tablet Plan for $29.99/month Posted on: June 6, 2017
- End of an Era: Old AT&T iPad Unlimited Data Plans Now Subject to Network Management Posted on: April 28, 2017
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Potential Alternatives to Consider:
For other featured cellular data plans ideal for RVers and Crusiers - here's some other options to consider:
The tablet unlimited plan can only be activated online, and requires the IMEI of a cellular enabled AT&T compatible tablet. It can not be activated in stores, and most AT&T representatives do not know about this plan.
Simply go to one of these two links, even from your cellular enabled tablet, to start the process:
- For iPads use this link: att.com/ipadlanding
- For other tablet models and compatible devices: https://buyasession.att.com/sbd/Common/ShopRatePlans.action
This is a prepaid plan, so there is no credit check - but you will need to setup an account direct with AT&T. Setup autopay monthly to keep the plan active and get the $34.99/mo rate.
Selecting the right cellular data plan for your mobile internet needs is only one part of the equation. Here's some further guides on understanding the selection process as well as the additional gear you might need.