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None of those plans come with unlimited data of the high-speed variety, but that will change this week. In a press release that says customers will soon be able to "stay in the fast lane with unlimited high-speed data," AT&T said that purchasers of the priciest plan "will now enjoy AT&T's high-speed data regardless of how much data they've used." AT&T said it will "start rolling out this enhancement this week and Elite customers everywhere will soon receive a text notifying them when the benefit has been added." While the change will be made with no extra fees for people who already buy the most expensive plan, other people will have to pay more to get onto the only plan with AT&T's new "fast lane" perk.

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As the change hasn't yet taken effect, AT&T's website still says that Unlimited Elite comes with "100GB of premium data" and that "after 100GB, AT&T may temporarily slow data speeds if the network is busy." The Unlimited Extra plan comes with 50GB of premium data, while Unlimited Starter doesn't guarantee any amount of premium data. Unlimited Starter simply carries the caveat that "AT&T may temporarily slow data speeds if the network is busy" regardless of how much data a customer has used. Essentially, Unlimited Starter users get prioritized behind everyone else when they're connecting in congested network locations, even if they haven't used any data that month.

AT&T is following in the footsteps of T-Mobile, which ended data slowdowns on its "Magenta Max" plan in February. T-Mobile still imposes thresholds of 50GB and 100GB before slowdowns on other plans. Verizon advertises entry-level unlimited plans that can be slowed down at any time and three pricier plans that come with 50GB of "premium" data before potential slowdowns.

AT&T ending its data slowdowns entirely when customers pay more demonstrates, if it wasn't obvious already, that the limits aren't necessary for network-management purposes. Imposing different levels of data slowdowns is one of the methods AT&T and other carriers use to create product differentiation among plans that all nominally offer "unlimited" data but cost different amounts.

AT&T is also increasing mobile-hotspot data from 30GB to 40GB on Unlimited Elite. Unlimited Extra will continue to have 15GB of hotspot data each month. Customers can technically keep using hotspot data after hitting those limits, but it's throttled to 128kbps at most. Unlimited Starter does not include any hotspot data.

We've been writing about AT&T slowing down speeds on unlimited-data plans for a long time, and it used to be a lot worse. Until 2015, "AT&T customers who used 5GB of data in a single monthly billing period were throttled for the rest of the month at all times, receiving barely usable service, despite paying for 'unlimited' data," as we wrote when AT&T implemented a more forgiving policy. The 2015 change ensured that "unlimited-data" users who exceeded 5GB would only be slowed down when the network was congested, similar to today's policies but with a different threshold before potential slowdowns kicked in.

AT&T's throttling practices were severe enough that the Federal Trade Commission sued the company for misleading customers, saying that AT&T made "unequivocal promises of unlimited data" while imposing "speed reductions of 80 to 90 percent for affected users." As the FTC said in its October 2014 complaint, AT&T's speed caps began at 128kbps in 2011 and were raised to 256kbps for 3G and HSPA+ devices and 512kbps for LTE devices in 2012. The FTC said the throttling affected 3.5 million customers.

The Unlimited Plus plan offers unlimited high-speed data, 10GB hotspot,2 nationwide 5G access3 (with compatible device) and more. On unlimited plans, AT&T may temporarily slow data speeds if the network is busy.

You can usually get unlimited data (or an extremely high data cap of 1TB or more) if you sign up for a gigabit internet plan, which gives you speeds around 1,000Mbps. Most fiber internet providers also offer unlimited data on their plans.

You need at least 600GB of data per month to do all the activities you usually do online without worrying about overage charges or network slowdowns. That could include anything from firing off tweets to downloading video games to streaming movies and shows.

Most internet providers give their customers 1TB of data to use per month. But some plans come with much less data than that, so watch out in case you use too much data. Be especially mindful of your data usage with satellite internet, fixed wireless internet, and cell phones.

If you run out of data, you will likely be charged extra for any additional data you use. Internet providers that impose data caps usually charge $10 for every 50GB of data you go over your monthly limit.

Does Xfinity have data caps?Xfinity has a data cap of 1.2TB per month, with an overage fee of $10.00 per each additional 50GB. However, Xfinity will let a month of overages slide before it starts charging fees.

Your data cap is the amount of data you can use on your home internet each month without incurring overage fees or speed slowdowns. Many internet providers impose a monthly data cap of 1TB, while Xfinity has a cap of 1.2TB per month. However, there are also internet providers that have no data caps and let you use unlimited data all month.

The following providers offer data caps of differing amounts along with overage fees of varying degrees. All of them (except for HughesNet and Viasat) also have packages with unlimited data or offer it at an additional monthly charge.

The FTC in 2019 required AT&T to provide $60 million for refunds for failing to disclose to millions of smartphone customers with unlimited data plans that once they reached a certain amount of data use in a given billing cycle, AT&T would reduce or throttle their data speeds. Some customers experienced data speeds so slow that many common phone applications, such as web browsing and video streaming, became difficult or nearly impossible to use.

The Federal Trade Commission works to promote competition and protect and educate consumers. Learn more about consumer topics at, or report fraud, scams, and bad business practices at Follow the FTC on social media, read consumer alerts and the business blog, and sign up to get the latest FTC news and alerts.

So, while your plan might be technically unlimited in the sense you can use as much data as you want, you're still effectively locked into a data cap because of the slower speeds your carrier might impose after you go over.

They all have some perks that attempt to make the plans more enticing, like free TV, international data or a subscription to Netflix, depending on the carrier. But I want to show you, specifically, what the term "unlimited data" actually gets you in each case. If you're interested in the other perks, click the link to each plan below.

Verizon has three unlimited plans priced at $75, $85 and $95 per month, respectively: "Go Unlimited," "Beyond Unlimited" and "Above Unlimited." The pricing for each decreases as you add more lines to the account.

Verizon's Beyond Unlimited plan is capped at 22GB of high-speed 4G LTE data per month, while the Above Unlimited is curbed at 75GB. If you hit these ceilings, Verizon reserves the right to slow your data speeds.

The entry-level Go Unlimited is unique. Unlike the more expensive plans, there's no guarantee of a certain about of high speed unlimited data you can use without seeing throttling. Verizon explained to me that "data may be temporarily slower than other traffic during times of congestion" at any point during your usage.

AT&T caps both unlimited plans at 22GB of data per billing cycle, after which it may slow your speeds down. The difference between the two plans comes down to video quality and hotspot data. Like other carriers, AT&T caps video at 720p by default, though the the "More Premium" plan offers 1080p streaming and 15GB for mobile hotspots. Your hotspot data gets slowed down to a measly 128kbps after you hit that cap, which is barely enough to check your email or send an iMessage.

Both of Sprint's "unlimited" plans are very limited. Unlimited Basic only supports 480p video, streaming music at 500kbps, playing video games at 2Mbps and 500MB of LTE hotspot data. Just to put those speeds in perspective, a modern 4G LTE connection should get you about 50-100Mbps, so you're getting 2 percent of the speed you pay for when you're playing video games, and less for streaming music.

T-Mobile One starts at $70 per month, though the price drops as you add more lines. T-Mobile advertises "unlimited talk, text and data." You can upgrade to T-Mobile One Plus for $10 per more a month, which includes a few more features.

T-Mobile One includes 50GB of high-speed 4G LTE data. Once you go above that, as with other carriers, T-Mobile can drop this to slower speeds. Also, while T-Mobile includes hotspot tethering, it's capped at 3G speeds which means you're going to be sitting around for a while if you need to download a big file. Video streaming is capped at 480p, too.

You can pay T-Mobile more if you want to avoid some of these boundaries. T-Mobile One Plus adds support for streaming in HD, offers 10GB of 4G LTE hotspot data per month (3G after that), faster data speeds if you travel abroad and free Wi-Fi on flights equipped with Gogo.

You're technically getting unlimited text messages and phone calls, sure. And, yes, you might get "unlimited data," but it's not the high-speed 4G LTE data you're used to. Trust me, if you go over that cap, you're not going to be very happy with your phone for the rest of the month and you'll be hunting down Wi-Fi hotspots to get your fix.

The good news is that most people don't use 22GB of data per month, so it might feel like you're getting as much data as you can possibly use. But as services like Hulu, Netflix and Spotify become more and more popular, and as you use them more, that data will be consumed quicker. 041b061a72


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