Straight Talk is one of TracFone's brands partnered with Walmart to provide prepaid phone and hotspot service. They offer plans on all of the major US networks - Verizon, AT&T, T-Mobile, Sprint and US Cellular.
The device you activate will determine which carrier you are placed with. However, their mobile hotspot plans seem to only be available for Verizon and AT&T.
And, currently, their mobile hotspot plans are their only viable semblance of a 'home internet replacement' option on the road.
None of their smartphone plans include mobile hotspot (tethering data) use, so we only consider their data hotspot plans to be of interest for the purposes of mobile internet options for RVers and cruisers.
All of their mobile hotspot plans are capped data buckets, which include between 1GB-7GB, spread over either 30 days or 60days of use.
You must utilize a StraightTalk branded hotspot device or participate in their 'bring your own tablet' program to use shared data on StraightTalk's hotspot plans. Only 5 devices can be connected at a time to StraightTalk hotspots.
For Our Comparative Pricing Grid:
Guide to Cellular Data Plan Pricing
We do not keep a Straight Talk plan in our testing arsenal.
Policies & Perks:
- Carrier Networks Used: AT&T, Sprint, Verizon, T-Mobile, US Cellular
- Carrier Relation: MVNO
- Plan Types Available: Data only (phone plans do not include tetherable data)
- Device Types Permitted: Hotspot, Tablet
- Device Purchase Required: Yes, for hotspots. Can BYO tablet device.
- Mobile Hotspot Use: Hotspot plans and tablet plans allow all data on the plan to be shared. None of StraightTalk's smartphone plans include mobile hotspot usage.
- Throttling: None
- Network Management: Always prioritized behind postpaid plan customers on that carrier.
- International Roaming: None
- Domestic Roaming: Depending on the Carrier network, it is possible that under certain circumstances your phone may roam if you are outside of your network coverage area and within the United States. Straight Talk does not guarantee your ability to roam nor the availability and/or the quality of Service. Due to Carrier restrictions, Straight Talk reserves the right to terminate the Service of any customer whose roaming usage exceeds 50% of their total usage in any three (3) Plan cycles within a 12 month period.
- Plan Period: 30 or 60 days
- Data Roll Over: Unused data does not roll over to the next billing period. However, Straight Talk does offer some of their data plans on a 60-day period, instead of the typical month.
- Overage Charges: None
- Streaming: No streaming services are bundled on StraightTalk plans.
- Depending on the Carrier network, plans may come automatically enabled with a feature that optimizes all detectable video streaming to DVD-quality (typically 480p) through the Carrier’s network. You may disable the Data Optimizer feature at any time by contacting Customer Care.
- Unlimited: StraightTalk offers an unlimited on phone device data plan, but with no hotspot capability, it is not a viable home internet replacement. Their hotspot plans are all capped data - and currently top out at 7GB.
- In addition, Straight Talk's TOS indicates the following: "We further reserve the right to limit, deny, or terminate Service to anyone we believe is using their Service in an unauthorized manner.... We will presume you are engaging in an unauthorized use in violation of these Terms and Conditions, if in our sole discretion, you are using more than 60 GB of data in a 30-day period." So, technically, 'unlimited' means '60GB'. And yes, we have seen reports of folks getting cut off for 'violating' these TOS.
- Device Lock/Unlock Policy: Straight Talk will provide an unlocking code to customers who request unlocking, provided the device has been activated on Straight Talk Service for no fewer than 12 months with service plans redeemed in no fewer than 12 months.
- FTC Throttles Straight Talk for Deceptively Throttled "Unlimited" Plans Posted on: January 30, 2015
- Field Report: Straight Talk Hotspot Posted on: May 29, 2014
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Straight Talk Ratings
None of Straight Talk's smartphone plans include mobile hotspot use, so for the purposes of mobile internet solutions we only consider their hotspot plans to be of interest. They do have some flexible options, but research is key to ensuring you get the carrier & plan you want.