The Four Major US Carriers: Verizon, AT&T, T-Mobile and Sprint – Which is Best for RVers & Cruisers?

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Q: Which is best for RVers, cruisers and frequent travelers?

A: The one that works best at your current location...

If you live in one location and only travel occasionally, it’s relatively easy to pick the best cellular carrier.

Obviously, you go with the one that you’ve observed to have the best service within your area. You can ask your friends and neighbors for experience, and you can check resources like:

While there might be an obvious “best” network for a given neighborhood, frequent travelers have a harder choice to make... our location changes, often!

There simply is no single network that works best everywhere.

All of the big four nationwide carriers have their strengths and weaknesses in various locations across the country. And each offers different plans & policies that make them more or less suitable as a mobile internet solution depending on your needs.

And sometimes regional and local carriers beat out the national carriers in a particular location - but are not ideal outside of their home turf.


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As a frequent traveler, you need to consider what carrier - or more than likely, combination of carriers - will give you coverage and data in the places you want to visit.

This article is an overview of the strengths and weaknesses of the four major carriers (Verizon, AT&T, T-Mobile and Sprint) in the US as they relate to mobile internet for RVers, cruisers and frequent travelers seeking an on-the-go home internet replacement.


The sections included in this guide: 


Video Overview

We created a 22 minute video that overviews the four carriers - be sure to check below for the latest on plan details.

Coverage

The major difference for each of the carriers is how widespread their coverage is nationwide. And for those relying on mobile internet, 4G & LTE coverage are the most important for the fastest speeds.

In the US, the four major nationwide carriers are:

  • Verizon - has the most nationwide coverage, but their most attractive plans can be more difficult to get.
  • AT&T - close second to Verizon, and currently has the most accessible and usable unlimited plan.
  • T-Mobile - the carrier to watch with a rapidly expanding network and usable unlimited data plans.
  • Sprint -  coverage generally only useful when close to bigger cities and along interstates, but has attractive plan options.

Below is a quick comparison of the four carrier's 4G coverage maps:

 

Although we can go to each carrier’s maps online to scout out ahead if our next location will have coverage for our carriers, we decided to make it even easier. We wrote an app for that!

coverage_new_iconCoverage? (available for iOS and Android) overlays our versions of the four major carriers maps, so you can create a personalized coverage map for the carriers you travel with, and plan your travels around connectivity!

The maps are stored on device, so you don’t need to have coverage to find out which direction to head to find coverage.
Get it on Google Play

All of the coverage maps displayed above are from the app!

 

Cellular Carrier Profiles

To learn more about each of the carrier's plans, expand the following sections:

Current Best Pick Data Plans for RVers for Each Carrier

  • Verizon - A grandfathered/legacy unlimited data plan the best option 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). The options for obtaining these plans are a bit complex and always changing. Monthly rates vary from $45-249. For more information: Guide to Verizon Unlimited Data Plans.
    • Note: Verizon's new unlimited data plans only include 15GB of high speed mobile hotspot use per line (including Jetpacks) and are subject to network management. All Verizon plans are now subject to video streaming throttling (including gUDPs).
  • AT&T -  The best deal going right now is the 'Connected Car' Mobley unlimited data plan for $20/month direct from the carrier if you can find the Mobley device in stock and a power adapter. It is subject to network management after 22GB of usage.
    • Alternates: Their Unlimited Plus plans are pretty attractive. Smartphones & tablets are subject to a 10GB high speed mobile hotspot cap, but mobile hotspots and the Home Base are exempt from this cap.
  • T-Mobile - T-Mobile One+ International smartphone plans include unlimited 4G personal hotspot use for $95/month which is a great option (those over 55 qualify for a $20/month discount!). Reseller Millenicom still offers the older style 'Simple Choice' data only plans that include unlimited video streaming for as little as $35/month, as well as unlimited hotspot data plans for $70/month.
  • Sprint - Joining a non-profit (such as Calyx Institute, PCs for People and 4GCommunity) to obtain an unlimited Sprint plan due to some prior agreement the carrier inherited is the most affordable option out there. Pricing starts at $10/month (yes, $10 - we didn't miss a 0). For more information: Non-Profit Sprint Plans.

Verizon - Carrier Profile

From the June 2017 release of our iOS app 'Coverage? - showing LTE coverage for Verizon.

Ask in almost any RVing group about which carrier is best, and you'll hear Verizon mentioned more often than any other. And there's a good reason for that. When it comes to raw nationwide coverage, Verizon wins hands down.

Coverage & Speed Notes

Verizon is the largest cellular carrier in the USA - whether you count the number of customers served, or the raw square miles of LTE coverage.

Verizon's popularity though is also its weakness. Though in general Verizon typically delivers great performance, in some areas Verizon's network can be severely overloaded and slow when other carriers are still humming along.

Particularly at major RV rallies and events, Verizon towers are known to melt down to being barely functional.

So while Verizon makes sense as a primary network - if connectivity is critical to you it is smart to have a backup plan on board too.

TIP: Verizon currently takes advantage of four LTE bands - 2, 4, 5, and 13 - in the future band 66 will become important. Older devices that support just one or two of these bands still dominate the airwaves, and they can get stuck on an overcrowded channel while newer Verizon devices are blazing along an order of magnitude faster in the cellular equivalent of a car pool lane.

If you have older devices - keep an upgrade in mind, particular if you notice friends and neighbors getting better Verizon performance.

Verizon Plans & Features

On July 7, 2016 Verizon introduced the 'New' Verizon Plan, and then in February 2017 Verizon revised things further introducing the Verizon Unlimited option, Verizon's first official unlimited offering since 2011. In August 2017, they revised their Unlimited Options further.

This current Verizon plans are now:

  • Small - 2GB - $35/mo (plus $20/line access fees)
  • Medium - 4GB - $50/mo (plus $20/line access fees)
  • Large - 8GB - $70/mo (plus $20/line access fees)
  • Go Unlimited - $75/month (single line), $65/line (2 lines), $50/line (3 lines), $40/line (4+ lines)
  • Beyond Unlimited - $85/mo (single line), $80/line (2 lines), $60/line (2 lines), $50/line (4+ lines)

+ Additional devices:  You also pay an additional "line access fee" to add tablets and Jetpack hotspots at $20/mo each, and you can have up to ten lines sharing a plan.

Verizon also has data-only shared plans for customers that do not have a smartphone line, though there is no unlimited option and the costs for large buckets of data quickly gets stratospheric (100GB for $730/month).

Here are some of the most interesting policies and perks of the current Verizon plans:

  • Unlimited Talk & Text
  • Carryover Data: Verizon now includes 'Carry Over Data' on tiered data plans.  If you don't use all of your allotted data in your current billing period, it rolls over to be used the next month. But you can not build up a balance - the unused data expires after just one month.
  • Safety Mode & Data Boost: Verizon's tiered data plans now include the ability to turn on 'Safety Mode' to eliminate the risk of surprise overage charges for using too much data. With Safety Mode enabled, data will simply be slowed down for the remainder of the month to 2G-speed (128 kbps) once the high speed data is used up. If you do need more fast data, you can manually purchase a "Data Boost" for $15/GB as needed.
  • Mobile Hotspot Use: All Verizon plans include mobile hotspot use. However there are limits on the "unlimited" plans:
    • Go Unlimited: Mobile hotspot speeds are always capped at 600 kbps speeds.
    • Beyond Unlimited: Includes 15GB of 4G high speed mobile hotspot before reducing to 600kbps for the remainder of the month. This 15GB usage cap applies even to standalone Jetpack hotspot lines sharing an unlimited plan.
  • Video Throttling: New as of August 23, 2017, all Verizon plans (even legacy and tiered data plans) are subject to 720p video resolution caps on smartphones, and 1080p on tablets & tethered devices.
  • Unlimited Domestic Roaming: Verizon imposes no limits on domestic roaming for calls or data when you are off their network, making Verizon's coverage map seem even larger than it already is. The new Unlimited plan though claims that domestic roaming may be capped at 2G speeds, and Verizon has sent out termination letters to unlimited customers who primarily utilize their extended LTE network coverage.
  • International Roaming: For customers with the Unlimited plan, roaming in Mexico and Canada includes 500MB/day of high-speed data per line. Verizon plans offer customers the ability to purchase a 'Travel Pass' which allows you to use your tiered data plan internationally. In Mexico & Canada the cost is $5/day, and in other countries it is $10/day. Charges are only imposed on days you actually use the plan.

Unlimited Data Options:

There are now four options for unlimited data on Verizon:

  • 'New' Unlimited Data Plan - Beginning August 23, 2017 Verizon has changed their unlimited data plans to have two choices.
    • Go Unlimited: This plan is always subject to network management (you may be slowed down during times of congestion), video is always capped to 480p on smartphones (720p on tablets) and mobile hotspot use is always restricted to 600 kbps.
    • Beyond Unlimited: This plan allows for HD video resolution on smartphones capped at 720p and 1080p for tablets & tethered devices. But this plan IS subject to network management once an unlimited customer has used more than 22GB on a line in a month. Once this threshold is reached, Verizon "may prioritize usage behind other customers in the event of network congestion". High speed mobile hotspot is capped at 15GB per month.
  • Grandfathered Unlimited Data Plans - Last offered in 2011, these grandfathered plans offer unthrottled high speed Verizon data that is NOT subject to network management after 22GB of usage but are subject to Verizon's video throttling (new August 2017). The plan supports unlimited mobile hotspot usage too. You can even use this plan inside a Jetpack and share an unlimited connection with other devices. This is still the best plan out there for most RVers seeking a home internet replacement, but you have to jump through a lot of hoops to get one of these rare old plans. We track the options in our Guide to Verizon Unlimited Data Plans. Note though that these plans have no (affordable) support for any international roaming, unlike the new Verizon Unlimited plan.
  • PopData: For those on tiered data plans, Verizon allows the purchase of 30 minute ($2) or 60 minute ($3) sessions of unlimited "PopData" when needed. This is an interesting option for those needing to handle a bulk upload (posting to YouTube), but for most people this is just a gimmick.

Verizon raised prices somewhat when it rolled out the New Verizon plan, so some RVers have been holding on to this generation of plan.

Do be aware that these older plans lack Safety Mode to avoid overage charges, and have no Carryover Data.

Verizon Recommendation:

If you are forced to pick just a single cellular carrier to keep connected via while RVing, Verizon remains the obvious choice for their network - but options for getting plans with a usable amount of data are pricey or difficult. .

But just like it would be foolish to jump out of an airplane without a reserve parachute, it makes sense to keep a secondary cellular plan on board too for the situations where Verizon is lacking.

We recommend a Verizon + T-Mobile or Verizon + AT&T combo, and for those who need more redundancy - nothing beats having all three on board.

Recent Verizon News Stories:

AT&T - Carrier Profile

From the June 2017 release of our iOS app 'Coverage? - showing HSPA+ and LTE coverage for AT&T.

AT&T is the nation's second-largest carrier, but in the LTE era it has seemingly always lagged a few steps behind Verizon.

But AT&T is often strongest in areas where Verizon is weak, and having both carriers on board can make for a very potent connectivity combination.

Coverage & Speed Notes

AT&T’s LTE network lags behind Verizon in coverage and speed, but AT&T’s older "4G" HSPA+ network actually rivaled Verizon’s legacy 3G network for coverage and blows it out of the water in performance.

In some of the very few remaining remote areas that have yet to be upgraded to LTE, AT&T is actually often king.

But in more populous areas, AT&T is rarely the fastest network around - often eclipsed by both Verizon and T-Mobile.

AT&T Plans & Features

The data-limited AT&T Mobile Share Advantage Plan was announced in August 2016, and remains available with shared pools of data available ranging from 1GB for $30/mo on up to 100GB for $520/mo. You then must pay a "line access charge" for every device sharing in the data - $20/mo for smartphones and hotspots, and $10/mo for tablets.

AT&T also offers two unlimited data plans, each offering unlimited talk and text. The Unlimited Choice starts at $60/month for a single line but is capped at 3 mbps speeds and only includes SD video. Unlimited Plus start at $90/month for a single line and is at full speed, and smartphone & tablet lines include 10GB of high speed mobile hotspot data.

Here's an overview of AT&T's current plan policies and perks:

  • AT&T Stream Saver & HD Video: Many AT&T plans (even unlimited) now come with the Stream Saver featured enabled by default, which throttles video streams to 480p "DVD Quality" resolution so that streaming video uses less data. This feature can be manually turned off to enable full-resolution HD streaming on tiered data plans and Unlimited Plus.
  • Mobile Hotspot: All AT&T Advantage plans include mobile hotspot use, letting you share your metered data however you wish. Unlimited Plus plans include 10GB of high speed mobile hotspot use on smartphone and tablet plans, and internet only devices can be added with no mobile hotspot cap. Unlimited Choice plans do not include mobile hotspot as a feature on smartphones and tablets.
  • No Overage Charges: The Advantage plans drop to 2G (128kbps) speed when all the high-speed data allotment for the month is used up, avoiding overage charges.
  • Rollover Data: AT&T Advantage plans include Rollover Data.  If you don't use all of your allotted data in your current billing period, it rolls over to be used the next month. But you can not build up a balance - the unused data expires after just one month.
  • Unlimited DirecTV Streaming: AT&T owns DirecTV, and to encourage customers to sign up for both services streaming from the DirecTV app on a smartphone or tablet does not count against AT&T monthly data caps or towards network management thresholds on unlimited plans. Of course AT&T Unlimited customers can stream any video service desired, but usage does count towards network management thresholds..
  • Domestic Roaming: AT&T's network has a decent sized off-carrier roaming area, with domestic data roaming limited to 400MB per month. If you exceed that, your data access may be shut down until you are back on AT&T native towers.
  • International Roaming: AT&T's international features are a bit confusing.
    • Mexico: Mobile Share Advantage plans with 10GB+ of data can automatically be used just like in the US in Mexico, but not in Canada. Plans with less data get 1GB of high speed Mexican data, but the feature must be turned on in advance before a trip.
    • Canada & Mexico: The AT&T Unlimited plans have a "Roam North America" feature that allows for free voice, text, and data roaming in Canada & Mexico - but the feature must be added to the line in advance of a trip.
    • Rest of the World: With activation of the International Day Pass feature (no charge to activate), AT&T customers can use their existing plans and all of their plan's features (including high-speed unlimited data) for $10 per device per 24-hour period in over 100 countries. Note that the fine print indicates that this feature will be removed from the account if the majority of a  customer's usage is international for two months in a row.

NOTE:  AT&T's Unlimited plans are subject to "network management" once an unlimited customer has used more than 22GB on a line in a month. Once this threshold is reached, AT&T "may slow data speeds" during periods of network congestion.

The Mobile Share Advantage Plan replaced AT&T's older Value plan - slightly changing around prices, while also eliminating the risk of overage charges. For most customers there was little downside to switching unless they had a special promotional rate locked in under the rules of the older plan.

If you do decide to keep a grandfathered Value plan active with AT&T, keep a close eye on your usage to avoid a rogue program racking up a huge overage bill.

AT&T Recommendation:

AT&T lags a bit behind the raw coverage of Verizon, and is often bested by the performance of T-Mobile.

However they currently offer the only unlimited data plan for internet only devices (such as mobile hotspots and Connect Car) with unlimited data only subject to network management. This makes them a very strong consideration as a component of a mobile internet setup.

AT&T's coverage is often strong in areas other carriers are particularly weak, such as in remote west Texas, the Florida Everglades or in some areas of the Alaskan wilderness. And when Verizon towers are saturated, often nearby AT&T towers are still steaming along.

Verizon and AT&T together make a particularly potent combination for those who are optimizing for the best possible cellular connectivity. And some nomads are choosing to give AT&T a try as their primary data network.

Recent AT&T News Stories:

T-Mobile - Carrier Profile

From the June 2017 release of our iOS app 'Coverage? - showing 4G coverage for T-Mobile.

The self proclaimed 'Uncarrier' has been constantly shaking up the cellular industry by rolling out a series of initiatives that have set the pace for everyone else to copy.

Thanks to pressure from T-Mobile, all of the carriers have given up on requiring contracts and device subsidies, and they have all but eliminated overage charges.

Coverage & Speed Notes

T-Mobile has been expanding its coverage area faster than any other carrier, and in many urban areas it has begun to rival Verizon and AT&T.

And where T-Mobile does have coverage - its LTE network tends to be extremely fast.

The bigger and older carriers (Verizon and AT&T) do however still have an undeniable advantage in less populated areas.

Particularly in remote rural areas, T-Mobile tends to be in distant third place. Because of this, for RVers who travel off the beaten path T-Mobile is rarely well suited to being the only carrier on board.

But as a secondary carrier, T-Mobile is often ideal.

IMPORTANT: Much of T-Mobile's coverage expansion since 2015 requires a newer device that supports LTE Band 12, which T-Mobile refers to as "Extended Range LTE". Older devices will be stuck in the slow lane if they are not compatible. In spring 2017, T-Mobile acquired a substantial chunk of 600MHz spectrum (which will be Band 71) that will be the basis of future new coverage - however currently, there are no devices that support it. We recommend not investing too much in new T-Mobile equipment right now, as an equipment upgrade will be necessary in the near term future as the new coverage is deployed.

T-Mobile Plans & Features

In August 2016 T-Mobile launched the "all unlimited" One and One+ plans, and in January 2017 T-Mobile retired its popular Simple Choice plans for new customers leaving the One plans as the only choice. In August 2017, T-Mobile added a senior plan with reduced pricing for account holders 55 years of age and older.

Currently

  • T-Mobile One smartphone and tablet plans start at a base price of $70 for unlimited talk, text and data. If you need more than a single line, things get progressively cheaper the more lines you add.
  • Account holders aged 55+ are eligible for a 2 line One+ plan starting at a price of $50 (with autopay) for unlimited talk, text and data. Other than the 2 line restriction and the need to be 55+, this plan is identical to the plans available to all customers.

Here are some of the most interesting policies and perks of the T-Mobile One plan:

  • Unlimited (Almost) Everything: Talk, text, and on device data are unlimited and there are no overage charges to worry about. But there ARE some important restrictions to be aware of.
    • Network Management: Customers who are in the top 3% of heaviest users on T-Mobile (currently those using 50GB/mo) are subject to network management once they have crossed this monthly threshold, which means that their ongoing usage will be slowed down relative to other T-Mobile customers - but only when towers are congested.
    • Domestic Roaming Limits: After 200mb of domestic roaming data usage, T-Mobile cuts off roaming network usage until your next billing cycle, or until you're back in a native area.
  • HD Video Streaming: The base One plan only includes 480p video resolution. However upgrading to One+ or One+International allows for full HD resolution video streaming.
    • SD Video in Canada & Mexico: While usage is still unlimited in these countries, video will be throttled down to 480p.
  • Mobile Hotspot: All T-Mobile One plans include mobile hotspot use at 3G (512kbps) speeds. One+ customers (+ $10/mo) get 10GB of 4G  high-speed mobile hotspot or tethering use, and then 3G speeds for the remainder of the month for tethering. Customers who are paying the $25/mo "One+ International" upgrade get unlimited high-speed hotspot usage.
    • De-Prioritized Data: On device data speeds are prioritized over mobile hotspot speeds, so on congested towers there may be a noticeable performance hit.
    • Primarily For On Device Usage: T-Mobile reserves the right to contact customers 'to discuss options' for those using the plans primarily as a mobile hotspot.
    • Standalone Hotspots: The One plans support smartphones and tablets, and dedicated hotspots and routers can NOT be used with unlimited plans. Metered data-only plans are still available for these types of devices.
  • Taxes & Fees Included: Beginning in January 2017, all T-Mobile One plans are flat priced and inclusive of taxes & fees.
  • The Uncontract: T-Mobile promises to never raise your prices or cancel your plan, even if the plan you are on is retired for new customers.
  • T-Mobile Tuesdays: Every Tuesday T-Mobile customers get something free for logging in to a special website. In the past it was weekly fully free pizza, though the offers have not been nearly as exciting in a while.
  • Gogo Inflight Wi-Fi: T-Mobile One plans include one hour per flight of free Gogo access to get a smartphone online, and for $5/mo the One+ plan adds unlimited Gogo usage and a few other perks.
  • Mobile Without Borders - Canada & Mexico: All T-Mobile plans can be used anywhere in Mexico & Canada just as if you were at home, including tethering! T-Mobile does reserve the right to enforce a policy that the plan needs to be used 'mostly' in the USA, so extended snowbirds should be wary.
  • Simple Mobile - Rest of the World: T-Mobile plans include free unlimited international text messaging, and free unlimited data in over 140 counties internationally at a slow (but useable) 256kbps speed. T-Mobile also has reasonable rates for voice calls too.

T-Mobile began phasing out Simple Choice plans in September 2016, and eliminated them in January 2017. However, they have gone on record that they will grandfather these plans for as long as customers keep paying their bill. These plans had tiered high speed data caps, Binge On unlimited video streaming and Data Stash.

In particular, we regularly recommended the $35/month 6GB data only plan.

Here are some of the key features of this plan:

  • International: Binge On video streaming is not included outside the USA. Simple Choice customers can purchase pricey Data Passes for 3G international speeds for outside of North America.
  • Mobile Hotspot Use: T-Mobile plans include mobile hotspot use, however they do prioritize on device data over tethered / mobile hotspot data on all smartphone and tablet plans when on congested towers.
  • Data Roll Over: Any high speed data you don't use is rolled over into 'Data Stash' for up to a year. You can accumulate up to 20GB in this account, to use when you need it.
  • Overage Charges: T-Mobile never charges overage fees. Once you hit your high speed data cap, you are simply slowed down to 2G speeds for the rest of the billing period.
  • Streaming:
    • Simple Choice - Binge On! All Simple Choice plans (postpaid) with 6GB of data or more include video streaming that does not count against your high speed data cap on partnered networks (including Netflix, Hulu, Amazon Prime, HBONow, YouTube, etc.), but at DVD-quality lower resolution. It officially only works on-device or when tethered to a laptop - but many have reported success using the service now with Roku, AppleTV, Chromecast, FireTV, etc (be sure to carefully watch your data usage!)  They also include free music streaming over many services. (Note, their Prepaid plans do NOT include the video streaming.) Binge On usage does count towards network management thresholds and is subject to slower speeds for high usage customers when on congested towers after using 32GB of data in a month.
  • Unlimited Data Plans: Include 14GB of high speed mobile hotspot use, and are subject to network management.

Note: Reseller Millenicom still offers the Simple Choice data only plans with the same pricing and benefits.

T-Mobile Recommendation:

T-Mobile is the carrier to watch right now, and they claim that by the end of 2017 their coverage map will rival Verizon's.

While T-Mobile's coverage has been constantly expanding, at this time we still can not recommend T-Mobile as a primary carrier for travelers who need the most coverage nationwide.

But as a secondary carrier T-Mobile has a LOT to offer. Particularly for those needing great international support, T-Mobile is hard to beat.

Recent T-Mobile News Stories:

Sprint - Carrier Profile

From the June 2017 release of our iOS app 'Coverage? - showing 4G coverage for Sprint.

Sprint’s biggest advantage is that it tends to have the most affordable options, especially the promotional plans offered to lure new customers.

The vast bulk of Sprint’s usable fast data coverage is found in core urban areas and along major interstates. Anything outside of that, and you’re roaming with very slow speeds – if you can get online at all.

If you’re planning to stick to urban areas, Sprint might be worthwhile – and Sprint’s tri-band LTE Plus network shows great promise for the future.

Their weaknesses: Their network is not nearly as large as Verizon or AT&T, and is roaming in most places outside of urban areas or off interstates.

Policies & Perks:

  • Domestic Roaming: Has a 100-300MB roaming cap per month on all of their data plans. If you go over, they start charging overage fees of 25 cents per megabyte. That can add up very quickly!
  • International: Sprint's international plans can be a bit confusing, but are free to sign up for:
    • Free in 165 destinations:
      • Free basic data
      • Free text messaging
      • $0.20/minute voice calling
    • Pricing for high-speed data in 65 destinations: 
      • Canada & Mexico: LTE high-speed data $2/day | $10/week
      • Most other destinations: high-speed data $5/day | $25/week
      • China: high-speed data $10/day | $50/week
  • Mobile Hotspot Use: All Sprint tiered data plans include mobile hotspot use, and their unlimited data plans include 10GB of 4G high speed use.
  • Data Roll Over: Sprint does not roll over data - you lose what you don't use at the end of your billing period.
  • Overage Charges: Sprint never charges overage fees. Once you hit your high speed data cap, you are just simply slowed down to 2G speeds for the rest of the billing period.
  • Streaming: All streaming counts against data caps on Sprint. On unlimited plans, streaming is at available at HD resolution
  • Unlimited Data Plans: They do offer an unlimited smartphone plan called Unlimited Freedom that includes 10GB of high speed mobile hotspot use, and is subject to network management after 23GB of use. HD video streaming is included, but music & gaming may be restricted in speed.

Recommendation: If you're sticking to urban areas and traveling mostly interstates, Sprint, particularly one of the high bandwidth or unlimited MVNO options, may be a worthwhile part of your arsenal. But for most travelers, Sprint is not an ideal option.

Recent Sprint News Stories:



Getting Service

You can purchase service directly from each of the carriers as post paid or prepaid service. Or, there are many resellers & MVNOs (Mobile Virtual Network Operators) who offer plans on the major carriers with different features, pricing or restrictions.

Use our guide below to navigate through the plans available for each carrier. Click any of them to get more information on the plans offered:

U.S. Cellular

The largest regional carrier offers plans that include nationwide coverage, but not for primary use.

Overall Review:

FreedomPop

FreedomPop offers free cellular plans on Sprint and global plans including T-Mobile & AT&T.

Overall Review:

Straight Talk

A TracFone brand available at Walmart offers prepaid mobile hotspot plans, primarily on Verizon and AT&T.

Overall Review:

Virgin Mobile

Subsidiary of Sprint, offering prepaid smartphone plans with mobile hotspot use.

Overall Review:

Simply Prepaid

T-Mobile’s lower cost prepaid native cellular phone & data plan.

Overall Review:

Project Fi

Google’s unique MVNO option that combines the coverage map of Sprint, T-Mobile and US Cellular.

Overall Review:

Karma Go

Karma’s proprietary mobile hotspot provides service powered by Sprint.

$149

Overall Review:

H2O Bolt

Reseller of AT&T offering dedicated data plans for mobile hotspots.

Overall Review:

Better Choice & Unlimited Freedom

Sprint’s own postpaid native cellular phone & data plan.

Overall Review:

Sprint Prepaid

Sprint’s own prepaid native cellular phone plans.

Overall Review:

MetroPCS

Owned by T-Mobile, MetroPCS offers competitive prepaid smartphone plans with tetherable data.

Overall Review:

4G Antenna Shop

Offers month-to-month no contract plans on T-Mobile, AT&T and sometimes Verizon.

Overall Review:

Sprint Unlimited Plan

This plan is now discontinued, and replaced with an Unlimitedville Rental Plan.

Overall Review:

Consumer Cellular

Reseller of AT&T and T-Mobile, offering smaller data plans with mobile hotspot use.

Overall Review:

Mobile Solutions

Offers month-to-month no contract unlimited plans on Verizon, AT&T and T-Mobile. But poor customer service reported.

Overall Review:

Boost Mobile

Subsidiary of Sprint, offering prepaid smartphone and mobile hotspot plans.

Overall Review:

Charge

Offering prepaid never expiring data on the Sprint network for smartphones and mobile hotspots.

Overall Review:

Cricket Wireless

Subsidiary of AT&T offering prepaid smartphone plans with data usage.

Overall Review:

Unlimitedville Rental Plans

Unlimitedville offers one-stop shopping for unlimited data plan rentals on all of the major carriers.

Overall Review:

Non-Profit Sprint Unlimited Data Plans

A clause in the Sprint Clear WiMax purchase allows for non-profits to offer low cost unlimited data plans.

Overall Review:

AT&T Unlimited Data Plan (Rental/Lease)

Renting or leasing a plan is a flexible way to obtain a Verizon unlimited plan, but has a higher monthly cost.

Overall Review:

Millenicom

Offers T-Mobile smartphone and data plans at lower costs but with all the T-Mobile postpaid perks.

Overall Review:

Credo Mobile

Verizon reseller that includes mobile hotspot use on tiered data plans.

Overall Review:

Boom! Mobile

Verizon reseller that includes mobile hotspot use on iPhones, and no roaming restrictions.

Overall Review:

Teltik

T-Mobile authorized reseller offering prepaid business plans with most of the perks of a direct T-Mobile account, at competitive prices.

Overall Review:

US Mobile

T-Mobile (& soon to be Verizon) MVNO featuring smaller, hotspot ready, full speed data buckets on customizable plans.

Overall Review:

Xfinity Mobile

Xfinity Mobile offers an unlimited data plan for Comcast cable TV and internet customers.

Overall Review:

Simple Mobile

A T-Mobile MVNO offering an unlimited data plan with tethering capabilities.

Overall Review:

Unlimited LTE Advanced

Unlimited LTE Advanced offers an unlimited, prepaid, no credit check hotspot plan on the T-Mobile network.

Overall Review:

Mint SIM

Mint SIM offers multi-month prepaid plans with tethering capabilities on the T-Mobile network.

Overall Review:
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