The return of unlimited data plans has been both a blessing and a curse for customers. On the one hand, the demise of data buckets that hit you with overage charges have led to more “freedom” with regards to our data usage. Most unlimited plans allow you at least 22GB of data before being throttled, while T-Mobile and Sprint hit the brakes at 50GB. The downside is that prices for these plans has been steadily increasing.
T-Mobile — the third-place wireless carrier that is largely responsible for bringing back the modern unlimited data plan — is offering up a new, cheaper plan for customers. Called T-Mobile Essentials, you’re given unlimited talk, text and data. You also get unlimited mobile hotspot at 3G speeds, or you can pay an additional $10/month for 4G LTE speeds.
Of course, there are a few strings attached, name when it comes to overall speeds and streaming quality. T-Mobile will throttle Essential customers more than its other unlimited data plans, noting that “during times and places with heavy network demand, Essentials customers may notice slower speeds than other customers.”
The other thing that you’ll have to keep in mind is that video streaming will always be limited to 480p, which is straight up DVD quality. Oh, and you won’t get that free subscription to Netflix.
So how much is this all going to cost customers? Well, T-Mobile says that the first line costs $60 per month, while adding a second line is only an additional $30. Adding the third and fourth line cost $15 each, bringing the total cost for a family of four to $120 per month. For comparison, a two-line T-Mobile ONE plan will cost you $120 per month, while four lines costs $160. All of those prices are with autopay enabled; if you forgo autopay, you’ll pay $5/month extra per line.
Speaking of T-Mobile ONE, that plan has been upgraded, doubling the 4G LTE mobile hotspot data add-on from 10GB to 20GB for $10/month.
“The other guys got one thing right – some customers just want the basics, but the Carriers did it all wrong,” said T-Mobile CEO John Legere. They’ve got Above Unlimited, Unlimited Plus, Beyond Unlimited, Unlimited and More…Unlimited and More Premium?! No wonder nearly half of Verizon and AT&T customers are still stuck on data bucket plans with overage penalties.”