AT&T has pulled a semi-shocker out of the blue with their announcment that unlimited data plans are back. Of course, on the surface, the announcement sounds great, but there is always that fine print to throw a monkey wrench into things. As we dug a bit deeper into the new unlimited plan, we saw how no-so-unlimited it turns out to be.
Starting with the pricing, the $100 primary line fee is a bit steep, but not totally out of line for an unlimited plan with the speed and coverage that AT&T offers. The next two lines would set users back $40 each. The fourth line is then free, making your AT&T unlimited plan about $230 after taxes for a family of four. Again, not a bad deal at all. This is where things start to get a bit confusing and small printish.
First up, the limit of what unlimited means. According to the AT&T site, unlimited, in this case measn 22GB of data before your connection is slowed. This works out to about 5GB per line before slowing occurs. Now if you have one power user and 3 ligther ones, the shared data pool may offer enough LTE bandwidth to carry you through a month. Keep in mind that there is no free music streaming or free video streaming allowance in that total like there is with T-Mobile’s plans. It’s a flat 22GB for as many lines as you add.
Next up, and probably the worst part, you have to be a U-Verse TV or DIRECTV subscriber to get this deal rolling as well. Sure, they will give you a monstrous trade in on your current device, or up to $500 with qualifying plan and phone payment program, but you still have to sign up for their 2 year DIRECTV deal to get in on this action. This bundle screams of issues galore from the start, and we haven’t even seen the pricing from DIRECTV yet.
For now, the DIRECTV select package will set users back $19.99 a month for the first 12 months before jumping to $49.99 a month for the second year of the contract. The small print also reveals that users must pay for the free 4th line for the first two months of service before the $40 a month bill credit kicks in for the free line.
While it’s nice to see AT&T roll out a new plan, and an unlimited one at that, for us the cost is just far too high for the benefits. For example, you can get 4 lines on Net10 Wireless for less money, without taxes and fees, and without the requirement of using DIRECTV or U-Verse TV. It’s a much better deal and far less commitment to get rolling on. Plus, you’re not locked into a TV contract either.