After a drought of unlimited plans, most major carriers in the United States have come around to the idea of uncapped data. AT&T is the latest to add an unlimited option to its lineup with its new “Unlimited Choice” plan.
AT&T’s take on unlimited takes some cues from T-Mobile One and gives AT&T an entry into the budget-friendly category, but it’s essentially a plan that uncaps data by placing limitations other elements.
The deal starts at $60 per month for the first line and offers subscribers unlimited talk, text, and data. A second line costs $55, and lines three through 10 add $20 each to the monthly bill. Those prices assume subscribers sign up for autopay, which automatically withdraws the monthly fee from the user’s account. An additional $5 for a single line or $10 for multiple lines is added for those who don’t opt in to autopay.
AT&T is keeping video quality maxed out at 480p—a feature similar to T-Mobile’s now-extinct Binge On plan that opted not to count streaming video against a user’s monthly data allotment, and the original version of T-Mobile One.
AT&T isn’t stopping at just dropping the video quality to standard definition, though. The entire mobile internet experience will be capped at a download speed of 3Mbps for Unlimited Choice subscribers (with video capped at 1.5Mbps) instead of the full speeds of 4G LTE—which, according to OpenSignal’s most recent data, is about 14Mbps for the average AT&T customer.
Tethering also appears to be entirely prohibited by AT&T for Unlimited Choice customers. And, as with most mobile offerings, the data isn’t actually “unlimited”—there is a soft cap at 22GB per month, at which point users will be subject to throttling that will slow their connection.
Unlimited Plus also undoes all of the restrictions of the lower tier plan. Data speeds are without limitation, video is uncapped and can be streamed at HD quality on AT&T’s mobile network, and users will have up to 10GB of data to use for tethering.
AT&T is also granting Unlimited Plus users a $25 credit for “entertainment.” The voucher can be used to pay for AT&T’s U-verse TV, DirecTV, or the streaming television service DirecTV Now—though the credit won’t cover the full cost of any of those options.
AT&T’s Unlimited Choice offering seems like the type of plan that wouldn’t have existed just a few months ago, as the capped data speeds and video quality would put the company in the territory of violating net neutrality ; T-Mobile got dinged for the same thing when it introduced its standard definition quality limits on videos in Binge On.
The plan does give AT&T an unlimited option that is somewhat competitive with the rest of the field. Sprint unleashed an unlimited plan earlier this month that it offered to new subscribers for $50 for the first line earlier this month, though the offer jumps up to $60 for the first line—same as Unlimited Choice—after the first year.
Verizon also jumped into the unlimited data market earlier this month with a plan that starts at $80 for the first line. T-Mobile has long led the charge for the plans and recently did away with service fees in its billing while keeping its unlimited plan priced at $70 for the first line.
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