AT&T's New 'Unlimited' Plans Have Wildly Different Data Caps

Photo: Sam Rutherford, Gizmodo

At this point, no one should be surprised when a new mobile phone plan branded with the word “unlimited” is anything but. And yet, AT&T’s three new plans have figured out a new way to abuse the definition of unlimited even further.

Starting on Sunday, November 3, AT&T will roll out its Unlimited Starter, Unlimited Extra, and Unlimited Elite wireless plans featuring “unlimited” data, talk, and text in the U.S., with plans including support for service in Canada and Mexico as well.

AT&T’s Starter Unlimited plan starts at $US65 ($95) for a single line (or as low as $US35 ($51) per line for four lines). However, what the press release doesn’t mention is that data prioritisation (AKA data throttling) is always on, meaning your data speeds could be reduced at any time.

This is a significant downgrade from AT&T’s current entry-level unlimited plan called Unlimited &More, which is only subject to throttling after using 22GB of data in a month.

Things get a bit better for AT&T’s new $US65 ($95) a month (or $US40 ($58) per line for four lines) mid-tier Unlimited Extra plan, which tacks on 15GB of mobile hotspot data and features a soft data cap of 50GB per month.

Finally, there’s AT&T’s $US85 ($124) per month (or $US50 ($73) per line for four lines) Unlimited Elite plan (which seems like pretty redundant name), which includes everything you get in the other plans along with a subscription to HBO, 30GB of mobile hotspot data, and a soft data cap of 100GB a month.

Additionally, following T-Mobile’s announcement earlier this week that it would give first responders a discount on their mobile phone bills, AT&T is also following suit by offering a 25-per cent discount on its wireless plans for first responders as well.

While it’s nice to see the Unlimited Elite plan sport a healthy data cap of 100GB per month, potentially being subjected to data throttling at any time on the Unlimited Starter plan feels like a raw deal, no matter how cheap it is.

And if carriers could stop trying to trick customers with claims of “unlimited” plans data that don’t actually come anywhere near being truly unlimited, that would be nice too.

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