Guide to Unlimited Cellular Data Plans: Understanding the Limits

Many RVers, cruisers and nomads are seeking a home internet replacement so they can work remotely, stay in touch with loved ones and even keep entertained.

Unlimited cellular high speed data plans are in high demand for the mobile community who would like to affordably use hundreds of GBs of data a month.

Unfortunately, none of the cellular carriers yet have the resources to provide home internet service if everyone cut the cord - so their plans are designed around the assumption that their customers have a DSL or cable connection for their primary internet usage.

Their cellular phone plans are designed for use when traveling away from the home or office.

So while all of the carriers proudly advertise unlimited data plans, they have redefined the term “unlimited”  to try to find balance between capacity and consumer desire.

These days 'unlimited' basically just means no automatic overage charges.

Unfortunately that means "unlimited" plans come with limitations and gotchas.

Understanding these restrictions is the key to determining if an unlimited data plan will meet your needs, especially if you're seeking a home internet replacement on the road.


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Understanding Unlimited Plan Restrictions

The most typical restriction on unlimited plans is the practice of slowing down the speeds delivered either always, or after a specific point of usage. Sometimes, unlimited high speed data is only provided for certain activities.

For a quick (5m) video overview of the differences between Network Management & Throttling - and Mobile Hotspot Caps:

Slowing Speeds Down 

Slowing down speeds can get a bit confusing. Don't let terms like Throttling and Network Management trip you up.

  • Throttling: Is when a carrier or reseller always slows down speeds. This might be for the entire month, or only after a certain amount of data is used. Here are some examples:
    • Verizon's 'Safety Mode' on their tiered data plans slows speeds to 128kbps after the data cap is reached to help customers avoid overage charges.
    • Many carriers include 10-20 GB of high speed mobile hotspot use, which is then slowed down to super slow speeds for the rest of the month once used.
  • Network Management: Is when a carrier reserves the right to de-prioritize the traffic of high bandwidth users. They generally have a threshold before this kicks in (22-75GB of usage in a month). Some carriers may refer to the data before this threshold as 'premium data'. Once data is subject to network management if you're on a cellular tower that is experiencing congestion, data speeds might be slowed down. Once the tower is no longer congested, full speeds should resume. You might not even notice it, especially if you travel in non-congested areas.
    • Example: Think of it as if you were driving on a highway that has a high occupancy / car pool lane. During normal traffic, all lanes are at full speed because there's not much traffic. But during rush hour, if you qualify to use the car pool lane, it's beneficial to avoid bumper to bumper traffic in the 'normal lanes.' Network management is like this - after you hit your threshold, you can no longer use the carpool lane. That will only matter during rush hour.
    • Both AT&T and Verizon are now calling their pre-network management data "Premium 4G LTE" probably as an attempt to better distinguish this threshold.  It also allows the carriers to more easily differentiate plans with different management thresholds, as is the case with Verizon's Above Unlimited plan with a 75GB threshold.

Mobile Hotspot / Tethering Restrictions

The hotspot capability on carrier direct unlimited plans assumes you have a primary internet provider for most things - such as cable or DSL. The carriers clearly do not want their customers using these plans to replace those sorts of connections - which is unfortunately precisely what many nomads need. Cellular data often is our primary internet source.

What is mobile hotspot and tethering?
  • Personal Mobile Hotspot is using a smartphone or tablet's cellular connection as a modem to get other devices (like laptops, tablets or streaming devices) online by creating a WiFi hotspot on the smartphone or tablet device.
  • Tethering is using a USB cable to directly attach the phone/tablet to a computer or router.

Both activities are treated the same by the carriers in terms of how data is categorized as hotspot use. Many unlimited data plans limit how much data can be used for this purpose at high speed, as unlimited data is only included for 'on device' usage on a smartphone or tablet.

Get the Book

If the carrier offers a dedicated mobile hotspot device to add on to the unlimited plan (such as a Jetpack/MiFi), a hotspot data restriction might even apply to that line.

The good news is, there are 'alternative' unlimited data plans without these restrictions that we track, which you can learn more about below.

Video Throttling

Streaming video over the internet has become one of the most data intensive things people do on the internet. And the carriers have been trying to capitalize on that demand while managing their resources.

Did you know that one hour of streaming HD video can consume 3-4 GB of data? That's a lot of data!

Most unlimited plans these days include unlimited video streaming on your smartphone or tablet. - but video resolution might be restricted to 480p, 720p or 1080p to save on bandwidth.

Check out our guide to TV & Entertainment on the Road for a lot more details on utilizing cellular data for video streaming, including the best practices for legitimately getting around your mobile hotspot cap to view video on your larger TV screen.


Which Carrier is Best for RVers?

Of course, before you get too far into researching the unlimited data plans offered by each of the carriers, you should also consider which carriers are most ideal for YOUR needs. Each of the carriers varies quite a bit in the coverage they offer. For those relying on mobile internet, we usually recommend having at least two carriers on board (redundancy.)

We keep a separate guide updated comparing the carriers for nomadic use:


Unlimited Plan Options by Carrier

Each carrier currently offers an "unlimited" data plan for smartphones and tablets. There are also 'alternate' options offered either by finding an older grandfathered-in plan, 3rd party resellers or a prepaid plan - some which might be available for data only devices.

This chart offers a quick comparison summary of the limitations & pricing. Further plan details can be found below as well:

Current Best Pick Data Plans for RVers & Cruisers for Each Carrier:

Quick Video Overview with our top picks (updated July 26, 2018):

Top Pick Plans:

These top picks focus on plans that provide the maximum amount of hotspot-enabled data (or on device for a tablet/PC) for the lowest cost.

  • Verizon
    • Verizon's "Unlimited" -  Verizon's Above Unlimited plans include 20GB of high-speed mobile hotspot per smartphone. However, data only devices (like hotspots and tablets) can be added for $20/mo each, and only include 15GB of high-speed hotspot data. Data top-ups are available for $35 for 5GB as needed.
    • FMCA offers a 25GB  'unlimited' plan on a hotspot device to their members that comes with a 25GB high-speed limit for $49.99/mo. It requires, however, a 2-year Verizon contract, and an active 2-year FMCA membership.
    • Visible is Verizon's new prepaid brand. For $40/month you get an iPhone based unlimited plan with all data capped at 5 Mbps (very usable!). As part of their pre-launch, they are including mobile hotspot use, but only to a single device. BUT this could change upon official launch.
    • Verizon Legacy Unlimited Plans - A grandfathered/legacy unlimited data plan has been the best deal for most US nomads who need lots of bandwidth and nationwide high-speed coverage - the plans are not subject to network management or throttling (except HD video).  Monthly rates vary from $45-249 depending on the method, including rental vendor options. However getting these plans is now a bit tricky, and there ongoing aggressive terminations.
  • AT&T
    • Wireless Home Phone & Internet plans on the Wireless Internet device are available for $60/month for 50GB or $100/month for 100GB.
    • Unlimited Prepaid iPad Plan - AT&T offers prepaid tablet plans for $29.99 -35/month, but data is only available on the device (no hotspot included). But with HDMI out for TV viewing and a Bluetooth keyboard, a tablet can be quite a capable device. (Some do put the SIM in a hotspot device, and it works - but this is against terms of service and AT&T could enforce it in the future.)
    • Rental/Lease Vendors: There are many rental vendors out there offering plans from $60 - 199/month. Check our Guide to Unlimited Data for listings and warnings.  The two cheapest right now are:
      • Netbuddy.co & OTR Mobile at $60/mo (members, check our Member Discount page before signing up.)
  • T-Mobile
    • T-Mobile One+  smartphone & tablet plans include 20GB of 4G personal hotspot use for $85/month, with unlimited on-device data (55+ and Military qualify for great discounts!) - however, hotspot use is de-prioritized a bit over on-device use. (The +International option mentioned in the video quietly retired on 8/9/2018 and is no longer available.)
    • Rental/Lease Vendors: There are many rental vendors out there offering plans from $70 - 250/month on data only devices. Check our Guide to Unlimited Data for listings and warnings.
  • Sprint
    • Non-Profit Unlimited Plans - Joining a non-profit (such as Calyx Institute or PCs for People) to obtain an unlimited Sprint plan due to some prior agreement the carrier inherited is the most affordable option out there. Pricing ranges from $10-33/month.
    • FMCA Sprint Plan: FMCA members have access to an unlimited Sprint hotspot plan for $49.99/mo, with no contract but does require an active 2-year FMCA membership.
    • Sprint Unlimited Premium - Sprint's premium smartphones plans include 50GB of high-speed mobile hotspot data a monthly, plus a bunch of other perks.
    • Sprint Direct 50GB Plan -  Sprint offers a direct mobile hotspot plan with 50GB of data for $50/month for use with dedicated data devices.
    • Sprint Direct Tablet & 2-n-1 Unlimited Plans - For $15/month, Sprint offers an unlimited on-device plan for tablets and select 2-n-1 PC devices and includes 10GB of high-speed hotspot data.

Last update: 9/20/2018

Detailed Unlimited Options by Carrier

For full details on each carrier's plans & policies, please refer to our guides:

Considerations for Selecting Cellular Data Plans

Cellular Data Plan Carrier & Pricing Guide

Below are further details on unlimited plans and options, including links to 3rd party rental/lease vendors.

These are not necessarily endorsements or recommendations. We get absolutely no kickbacks for listing any vendor and have no affiliation with any plan or service. These are simply options that maintain their own public web presence (their own website) offering their plans.

Data Vendors & Brokers:  Want to be listed? Please be in touch at info@rvmobileinternet.com and introduce yourself and what you offer. We take absolutely no listing fees, advertisement dollars or kickbacks for listings. And you must host your own web storefront (eBay not eligible) where customers can transparently learn about the details of your offering.

Verizon

Verizon has had different unlimited data plans over the years, from those that are grandfathered-in from when unlimited was first offered before 2011 (and have pretty much no limitations), to their new "unlimited" smartphone plans that began being offered February 13, 2017.

The NEW Unlimited Data Plan

On August 23, 2017 Verizon adjusted their unlimited plans - introducing two different choices, with additional limitations to understand.

Policies:
  • Throttling & Network Management:
    • Go Unlimited / Go Unlimited 55+: Lines on their plans are always subject to network management
    • Beyond Unlimited: Lines on this plan are subject to network management after 22GB of usage in a month, per line.
    • Above Unlimited: Lines on this plan are subject to network management after 75GB of usage in a month, per line.
  • Mobile Hotspot / Tethering Use:
    • Go Unlimited / Go Unlimited 55+: All mobile hotspot use is at 600 kbps.
    • Beyond Unlimited: The plans include 15GB of high-speed mobile hotspot use in a month per line, and then speed for mobile hotspot is reduced to 600 kbps for the remainder of the month.
      • A data boost of 5GB of high-speed mobile hotspot data can be purchased for $35 - and each line can have up to 20 data boosts (ie. up to 100GB) per billing cycle. This is a flexible, albeit pricey, way to add a bunch of data when needed sporadically.
    • Above Unlimited: Smartphone lines on this plan include 20GB of high-speed mobile hotspot use in a month per line, and then speed for mobile hotspot is reduced to 600 kbps for the remainder of the month.
      • A data boost of 5GB of high-speed mobile hotspot data can be purchased for $35 - and each line can have up to 20 data boosts (ie. up to 100GB) per billing cycle. This is a flexible, albeit pricey, way to add a bunch of data when needed sporadically.
  • Video Optimization:
    • Go Unlimited / Go Unlimited 55+: Video on smartphones is reduced to DVD quality at 480p, and on tablets reduced to 720p.
    • Beyond Unlimited: Video on smartphones is reduced to 720p, and on tablets & tethered devices reduced to 1080p. For $10/mo per line, you can enable 4K video streaming.
  • Additional Devices: 
    • Single Line: Verizon will activate a single line. You can add two hotspot/tablet lines for $20/line on top of a single line account.
    • Multi-Line: Two or more smartphones on an account bumps the base price up to multi-line pricing. Up to 10 devices may be on a consumer account.
  • Hotspot / Tablet / Data Only Devices:
    • Above Unlimited:  Mobile hotspot devices (Jetpacks/MiFi) and Tablets can be added for $20/month each. However lines are capped at just 15GB of high speed mobile hotspot use, and are subject to network management after 15GB.
    • Beyond Unlimited: Mobile hotspot devices (Jetpacks/MiFi) and Tablets can be added for $20/month each. However lines are capped at just 15GB of high speed mobile hotspot use, and are subject to network management after 15GB.
    • Go Unlimited / Go Unlimited 55+ are not eligible for adding hotspot device lines.

Unlimited Data History - Grandfathered Plan:

  • "February Unlimited" - Originally launched in February 2017, Verizon's return to unlimited plans. The plans launched with only 10GB of high-speed mobile hotspot use, but were automatically upgraded to 15GB when Beyond Unlimited replaced the plan in August 2017. The February plan pricing was cheaper (particularly for multi-line accounts) and Verizon continues to honor the pricing for those who had it. There's even confirmed reports of calling into Verizon's retentions department and being able have them back date current unlimited plans to this older pricing.
    • Should you keep it? If you have this plan, and are happy with 15GB hotspot data, there's no reason to upgrade to Beyond Unlimited and pay more for the same thing.
  • gUDP / Legacy Unlimited Data Plans - Up until 2011, Verizon offered a truly unlimited smartphone data plan - even allowing for mobile hotspot use without throttling or network management. They continue to honor grandfathering for true legacy customers, but high usage customers who are out of contract are regularly getting termination letters and those who obtained newly spawned lines via data brokers are regularly getting terminated.
    • Should you keep it?: If you still have this plan, it is worth holding on to it for as long as it lasts For as long as Verizon will continue to honor these plans, they are considered gold.
    • For an overview of these plans: Grandfathered/Legacy Unlimited Data Plans.
Alternate Options:

There are some other options for unlimited Verizon Data:

  • Grandfathered/Legacy Unlimited Data Plans - To learn more about these options ranging from $5-249/month refer to our Guide to Verizon Unlimited Data Plans. At present time we consider these option very risky, as there's ongoing terminations for rental/leases, flashed devices and owned lines.
  • Unlimited Rental/Lease Vendors -

Dealing with Third Party Vendors and Why the Pricing Range? Verizon reseller plans tend to be based on business/corporate accounts and sometimes reselling government or non-profit plans. As with all third party resellers, consider that the vendor may NOT have an official relationship with the carrier and service could be terminated with little notice. This is especially true of Verizon unlimited plans, which usually do NOT allow for resellers or leasing - and Verizon has a solid history of terminating these sorts of accounts.  Please follow up with the Verizon Unlimited guide linked above for more information on this. 

  • Listings here are for informational purposes, and not endorsements or advertisements for these resellers. Resellers may show 'out of stock' depending on current inventory and availability.
    • LivinLite: Offers unlimited Verizon plans for $140/month
    • Timbuktu Wireless: Offers unlimited Verizon 'Red' plans at $149.99/month, with no stated data caps.
    • 4GData.net: Offers unlimited plans at $150.00/month, with no stated data caps.
    • UnlimitedtoGo: Their 'red' plan is listed at $179.99/month with no data caps.
    • TacCom Data: Offers unlimited plans at $175/month with not stated data caps.
    • Konnected Technology: Offers unlimited plans at $195.00/month
    • Unlimitedville: Offers Verizon rental option at $249/month.
  • PopData: For those on tiered postpaid Verizon data plans post-October 2016, the carrier allows customers to purchase 30 minute ($2) and 60 minute ($3) unlimited data sessions, giving a lot of flexibility for consumers to handle large file transfers when needed.
  • Verizon Prepaid Unlimited Data Plan - Verizon directly offers an unlimited smartphone plan, but only includes unlimited data on the smartphone and 3G speed (600 kbps) mobile hotspot use. Also, all use is subject to network management at all times, and video is reduced to 480p resolution. At present time, Verizon is offering 'double data' promotions on their tiered data plans that might be suitable.
  • Verizon Unlimited Plan (Tablet) - This is a hidden tablet-only plan that is only available in Verizon stores or by calling Verizon directly - it is not advertised on the website.  For $68/month it includes unlimited on-device data with a network management threshold of 15GB. It includes 15GB of full-speed mobile hotspot data (then reduced to 600kbps), unlimited HD (1080p) on-device streaming, unlimited 2G domestic roaming, 512mb international roaming followed by unlimited 2G, and unlimited texting.  This plan is primarily designed for people who have a single tablet on Verizon and no other lines of service.
  • Visible - Verizon's newest prepaid brand offers unlimited data reduced to 5mbps for $40/month. Hotspotting of all data is permitted at 5mbps, but you can only hotspot to a single device at a time. Visible customers are prioritized behind postpaid Verizon customers. Currently iOS only.
  • Xfinity Mobile & Spectrum Mobile - These home based cable services offer special plans on Verizon to their customers. On device data is 'unlimited' - with the first 20GB being at full speed. Mobile Hotspot however is restricted on both plans - only 5GB at high speed on Spectrum's plan, and all at 600 kbps on the Xfinity plan (new policy change as of July 2018).
  • US Mobile - US Mobile is a prepaid MVNO that offers unlimited data plans on the Verizon network, however, speeds are throttled after 14GB of use in a month.
  • FMCA - The Family Motor Coach Association offers an "unlimited" data plan with Verizon to their members for $49.99/month. It includes 25GB of highspeed mobile hotspot use, then "2G speeds" afterward - and we have multiple confirmed reports of unusable speeds after the 25GB. This plan does require a 2-year contract with Verizon and and an active 2-year FMCA membership.

AT&T

ATT-Logo1

AT&T has experimented with unlimited data plans for a long time. They have options for smartphones, tablets, and connected cars. There are also some occasional rental options that come up.

'Unlimited &More' Smartphone Plans
  • Throttling & Network Management Policy:
    • The plans are just subject to network management after 22GB of usage in a month per line.
  • Video Optimization:
    • Unlimited &More Premium: HD Video streaming is restricted to 1080p on device, and 'Stream Saver' needs to be manually turned off to get HD.
    • Unlimited &More: Video is restricted to SD quality and Stream Saver cannot be turned off.
  • Mobile Hotspot / Tethering Use:
    • Unlimited &More Premium: Includes 15GB of high-speed mobile hotspot use on each smartphone or tablet line, which drops to 128kpbs (2G speeds) after 15GB/month.
    •  Unlimited &More: Includes no mobile hotspot use on smartphones & tablets.
  • Additional Devices: 
    • Single Line: AT&T will activate a single line at the base price - this device must be a smartphone. You can add two tablets ($20/mo) or wearables ($10/mo) to a single line account.
    • Multi-Line: A second smartphone goes to multi-line pricing, and there may be up to 10 devices on an account.
  • Hotspot / Data Only Devices:
    • Select Connected Cars can be added to unlimited plans without being subject to the high-speed data cap. This does require a built-in Onstar system to qualify (no aftermarket devices like the Mobley).
    • AT&T does not allow other data only devices to be added to Unlimited &More plans. This includes hotspots, USB modems, and Wireless Internet devices. Only tiered data plans are available for these device types, including Wireless Internet plans that include up to 100GB of data for $100/month.
  • International Data Use:
    • Full plan data usage in Mexico/Canada, however roaming off AT&T's network partners may be limited to 2G speed. This feature is primarily aimed at smartphones and tablets and does not apply to certain devices including wearables & connected cars. Check with AT&T to ensure your device is eligible for unlimited North America data roaming.

Unlimited Data History - Grandfathered Plans:

  • 'Unlimited Enhanced Plus' and 'Unlimited Enhanced Choice': ,Only offered from March 1 - June 28, 2018 -  these plans were quietly replaced with the &More plan versions. The only major difference is the inclusion of the Watch TV features, and removing always on network management on the &More plan.
    • Should you keep it? There's really no benefit to keeping this plan if &More appeals to you.
  • Unlimited Plus' and 'Unlimited Choice': Officially retired on February 28, 2018, these plans were quietly replaced with the 'Enhanced' plan versions. The big feature of the Plus plan was the ability to add mobile hotspot devices to the plan that were not subject to high-speed caps, even as a stand-alone plan. AT&T had a grace period up until May 6 for existing customers to add on hotspot lines that would be grandfathered in.
    • Should you keep it? If unlimited data is an important part of your setup and you have this plan on a data only device, we highly recommend keeping it as long as you can!  Smartphone and tablet lines only allowed 10GB of high-speed hotspot use, however. So, if you don't have a dedicated data only line on this plan to protect, it may be worthwhile switching to &More for the 15GB cap and Watch TV benefits. Compare pricing if you have multiple lines!
  • Connected Car "Mobley" Plan: Available for much of 2017, this plan officially retired in September 2017. A too-good-to-be-true unlimited plan for $20/month only subject to network management after 22GB of usage in a month. Using the aftermarket ZTE Mobley Connected Car Device with a power adapter allows use of the plan without a vehicle's ignition being on. This was a stand-alone plan not requiring any other AT&T account but was only available through AT&T's Connected Car department.
    • Should you keep it? Those who have the plan are currently grandfathered-in, and this plan is definitely worth keeping for as long as you can!
    • Use in other devices? While the Mobley SIM at present time will work in other hotspot devices, these plans were clearly activated as for Connected Car devices only. There is risk in the future AT&T could enforce these terms of service.
  • Original iPhone Unlimited Plan: These older plans included no mobile hotspot use, and became subject to network management like modern plans are.
    • Should you keep it? For most still on these older grandfathered plans, we recommend considering switching to their NEW Unlimited Enhanced Plus data plan to get the mobile hotspot benefit and Canada/Mexico access.
Prepaid & Alternate Options: 
  • Connected Car Onstar Plan: If you have a vehicle with the Onstar system built in, you can generally qualify for an unlimited standalone $20/month data plan through the Connected Car department. This plan only works when the vehicle's ignition is on. The plan is no longer available for aftermarket devices like the Mobley.
  • Tablet Prepaid Unlimited Plan: AT&T offers a prepaid unlimited tablet plans for $29.99 with autopay (or $35 on a month-to-month as needed basis). The plans are subject to network management after 22GB of usage, and do not include any mobile hotspot use. A great option if your needs can be met with a tablet.
    • These plans are specifically meant for cellular enabled tablets, however many report the SIM card works just fine in an AT&T compatible hotspot device or router. This is a violation of terms of service that could be enforced in the future. You will find some vendors, particularly on eBay, that will set one of these lines up for you using a spoofed tablet IMEI number - and then you take over the payments directly with AT&T.
  • AT&T Prepaid: AT&T offers two prepaid smartphone plans with unlimited on-device service. One does not include any mobile hotspot use, and their higher tiered level plan includes 10GB of high-speed mobile hotspot.
  • Rentals/Resellers: You'll find rental lines on places like eBay and other online shops. Here's a listing of some vendors who have been in touch with us.
    • Dealing with Third Party Vendors and Why the Pricing Range? Some plans are based on postpaid business data only lines with no stated limitations, and some are plans based on the prepaid  plans that might be subject to limitations like network management, lower priority service, lack of roaming or video throttling. As with all third party resellers, consider that the vendor may NOT have an official relationship with the carrier and service could be terminated with little notice.
      Listings here are for informational purposes, and not endorsements or advertisements for these resellers.
    • Lowest Cost Resellers (Members Check for Discounts):
      • Net Buddy - $60/mo
      • OTR Mobile - $60/mo
      • Note: We have communicated directly with both of the above, and they both claim they have direct reseller relationships with AT&T, and the plans are on AT&T's prepaid network (ie. no domestic or international roaming included) - and are not subject to throttling or network management.
    • More Resellers:
  • GoPhone: AT&T's own prepaid subsidiary, GoPhone offers an unlimited call, text, and data plan that is always slowed to 3 mbps speeds, and is subject to network management at 22GB. All streaming is at 480p. Mobile hotspot/tethering is not permitted. This plan does, however, allow free roaming in Canada and Mexico.
  • Cricket Wireless: A prepaid brand owned by AT&T, has two unlimited data plans for smartphones that one that is always slowed to 3mbps speeds and one that is full speed on device. Both are subject to network management after 22GB of usage in a month. Customers can add on 10GB of high speed hotspot use for $10/month on select phones on either unlimited plan. (While SIM cards from unlimited Cricket plans do work in hotspot devices with unlimited service, Cricket has started to enforce their terms of service for unauthorized use. We have reports starting in late 2017 of text messages being received and now termination of accounts starting in early 2018.)
  • Skyroam: International global SIM provider prominently advertises 'Unlimited Data' for $8/day or $99/month on their proprietary hotspot device. While intended for international travel with automatic roaming, in the US Skyroam uses AT&T as the carrier. However, read the fine print - Skyroam throttles speed to '2G' after 500mb of usage in a day, or 15GB in a month.
  • AT&T Wireless Home Internet & Phone- While not unlimited, AT&T offers a 100GB for $100/month plan on their Wireless Internet devices.

T-Mobile

T_Mobile_logo_Magenta_lowT-Mobile One & Essentials Plans

In September 2016, T-Mobile began offering T-Mobile One plans which included unlimited data. Since launch, they have made several modifications to the plan to meet customer demands and in response to other carriers, including the addition of a stripped down Essentials plan and retiring the popular +International plan in August 2018.

There are caveats to this plan to consider.

  • Throttling & Network Management Policy: The ONE plans are subject to network management after 50GB of usage in a month per line. They change this threshold several times a year based on what represents the top 3% of customer usage. The Essential plan is always subject to network management.
  • Mobile Hotspot / Tethering: The carrier offers three tiers of plans, each with their own mobile hotspot allowances (the carrier defines '3G speeds' in their fine print as 600 kbps):
    • Essentials: Includes unlimited hotspot use at 3G speeds, prioritized behind other T-Mobile customers
    • One: Includes unlimited hotspot use at 3G speeds.
    • One+ (+$10/month): Includes the first 20GB of mobile hotspot at full 4G speeds per line, and then drops to 3G speeds afterward.
  • Video Resolution Throttled: One and Essentials plans include free video streaming at 480p resolution. One+ plans include HD video streaming.
  • Hotspot Devices:
    • T-Mobile currently does not offer an unlimited data plan on dedicated mobile hotspots. Tiered data plans are available.
Prepaid & Alternate Options:
  • Resellers/Rentals - Most of these resellers offer plans based on the 'T-Mobile One' smartphone plan and those plans are subject to the same limitations including video throttling (SD/5Mbps) and Network Management at 50GB.
    • As with all third party resellers, always assume that the vendor likely does NOT have an official relationship with the carrier and service could be terminated with little notice.Listings here are for informational purposes, and not endorsements or advertisements for these resellers.
    • Millenicom: Offers the Ultimate LTE plan for $70/month, with unlimited 4G hotspot use in North America (Canada/Mexico restricted to 5GB/mo) - but video streaming reduced to 512kbps speeds (lower resolution). The plan is only available on select devices however.
    • Unlimited LTE Advanced:  $79.99/month that includes full 4G/LTE hotspot use and HD video in the US only (no international use included)
    • Infinite LTE Data:  $79.99/mo plus equipment rental.
    • Adventure Wireless: $79/mo
    • Unlimitedville (Pink): $149/month on their device.
    • 4G Antenna Shop: Pricing Varies
    • UnlimitedtoGo (Pink) - $129.99/mo
    • Konnected Technology - $89.95/mo
    • Suros Wireless - $85 - 105/mo
    • Timbuktu Wireless - $119.99/mo
    • 4Gdata.net - $100/mo
    • Impact Wireless - No pricing info available. You must register with them, then verify your address before any info on their plans is made available.
    • WirelessBuy.com - $79.99 (must be a verified business, includes Canada access)
  • T-Mobile Prepaid: Offers a prepaid One unlimited plan for $75/month with unlimited 4G LTE data on device, and mobile hotspot data at 3G speeds.
  • Metro by T-Mobile: T-Mobile's prepaid subsidiary offers two unlimited on device plans with 4G LTE data on device, and either 5GB or 15GB of mobile hotspot data for $50 or $60/month.
  • Project Fi: Google's cellular plan that combines T-Mobile, Sprint, and US Cellular introduced 'Bill Protection' in January 2018 and is advertised as unlimited. Pay a max of $60/month for data (billed at $10/GB) and use up to 15GB a month at full speed. After 15GB, speeds are reduced to 256 kbps - or you can opt into $10/GB billing for high speed.

Sprint

Sprint LogoSmartphone Unlimited Plans

All of Sprint's data plans are 'technically' unlimited. Even on their tiered data plans (those in which you purchase a bucket of data for each month), after the cap is reached, speeds are throttled for the rest of the billing period to 2G speeds.

Sprint also offers unlimited high-speed smartphone data plans to consumers, an ability to add on an unlimited tablet plan to any line of service, and there are non-direct options for unlimited data plans lurking around too.

Sprint's three unlimited plans can be mixed-and-matched while retaining the multi-line discounts.  For example, you could get 2 lines of Unlimited Premium for $160 and two lines of Unlimited Plus (the mid-tier option) for only another $40/month.

  • Throttling & Network Management Policy: The plans are subject to network management after 50GB of usage in a month per line.
  • Mobile Hotspot & Tethering Policy: Sprint's current 'Unlimited' data plans include 500mb, 15 GB, or 50GB a month of high-speed mobile hotspot & tethering use per line. After the hotspot data is used, speeds are reduced to 3G for the rest of the month.
  • Video Resolution Throttled: Video streaming resolution is based on the plan, but varies between SD (480p) and uncapped (4k for devices that support it).
  • Hotspot Devices: Hotspot lines are not available to be added to unlimited plans, however, the carrier offers a 50GB hotspot plan for $50/month.
Prepaid & Alternate Options:
  • Non-Profit Low Cost Unlimited 4G Plans: Due to terms of how Sprint purchased Clear a few years back, they inherited terms to provide unlimited data plans to non-profits. By joining non-profits like Calyx Institute (open to all) or PCsForPeople (low income qualified) you can get access to Sprint unlimited data plans for as low as $10/month.
  • 2-in-1 PC Devices & Tablet Plans: Sprint has an unlimited on device data plan for select 2-n-1 Snapdragon based PC-like devices and BYOD tablets for $15/month. Plans include 480 video streaming and 10GB of LTE mobile hotspot use.
  • Rental/Lease Vendors: As with all resellers, always assume service could be terminated with little notice. Listings here are for informational purposes, and not endorsements or advertisements for these resellers.
  • Boost Mobile: In February 2016, this reseller added mobile hotspot usage to all of their smartphone plans. Their unlimited smartphone plan includes 20GB/month of hotspot usage and is subject to network management after 23GB of usage a month.
  • Virgin Mobile: In March 2017, this Sprint's prepaid subsidiary added an unlimited plan option to their line-up. No hotspot usage is included in the base price, but 2G per month can be added for an additional $10/month.
  • Project Fi: Google's cellular plan that combines T-Mobile, Sprint and US Cellular introduced 'Bill Protection' in January 2018 and is advertised as unlimited.  Pay a max of $60/month for data (billed at $10/GB) and use up to 15GB a month at full speed. After 15GB, speeds are reduced to 256 kbps - or you can opt into $10/GB billing for high speed.
  • 50GB Plan - While not unlimited, Sprint does offer a $50/month dedicated hotspot plan that includes 50GB of data  month.

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