Now, there may be some confusion that The Lazy Geeks is not a hug fan of AT&T. Let me be clear: No, we don’t like AT&T. Having been a customer of a few iterations of the service: when they took over phone service from Pacific Bell, when they took over television service from DirecTV, and when they took over Warner Bros. studios. With all that being said, we like to acknowledge the price gouging practices of the company. Which makes the announcement of AT&T new unlimited plans ripe for scrutiny.
On Wednesday, AT&T announced that they are ditching their old “unlimited plans”, which were only a year old for a new three “unlimited” data plans. Their current “Unlimited & More” plan costs about $70 a month for one line. However, their “unlimited plans” weren’t so unlimited. As you could be throttled after using 22 GB a month before throttling.
Starting November 3, AT&T will offer a new “Unlimited Starter” plan as the entry-level edition at prices of $65 per month for a single line or $35 for each line when you buy four lines. “On AT&T Unlimited Starter, you can share, view and browse with unlimited data, talk and text in the U.S., as well as in Mexico and Canada,” the company says in a press release. “This straightforward plan is our best value on an unlimited plan at $35 a line for 4 lines.”
“You’ll get unlimited calls, texts, and data, with the catch that AT&T can throttle you whenever it decides that the network is too congested,” The Verge reported yesterday. “Unlike the other plans, there’s no guaranteed pool of data before deprioritizing starts. You’re also limited to SD-quality video, and there’s no option to share your Internet by using your phone as a mobile hotspot.”
The throttling details weren’t mentioned in the press release, but were independently verified.
You are, also, limited to SD-quality video. So that means you will be forced to watch 480 video (including Netflix, HBO, or YouTube) in standard definition. Also, there is no option to use your device as a mobile hotspot.
Even if you upgraded to the AT&T Unlimited Extra for $75 per line for a single line or $40 per line for four, you will be throttled after you use the guarantee of 50GB pool of high-speed data, and you will get up to 15GB of LTE data for a mobile hotspot per line. Video is still limited to SD.
The new top-level plan is Unlimited Elite, and AT&T said it will launch “in the coming weeks” but did not reveal a specific release date. This one is $85 a month for a single line or $50 per line with four lines, and it comes with 100GB of data before any potential throttling. Unlimited Elite also has 30GB of high-speed mobile-hotspot data and HD-quality streaming video.
You are not getting more data for free. There is a trade-off.
There are also changes in which video services come bundled with unlimited plans. Both of AT&T’s current unlimited plans come with AT&T’s WatchTV service, which has 35 channels of live TV. Unlimited & More Premium also lets customers choose one of the following services: HBO, Cinemax, Showtime, Starz, Pandora Premium, Spotify Premium, and VRV.
AT&T new unlimited plans will not include WatchTV and will not give customers a choice of entertainment services. However, Unlimited Elite will include HBO and HBO Max when it is released in May 2020.
This is a major change from AT&T’s misleading practices. The AT&T new unlimited plans aren’t much better, but they used to throttle unlimited customers in 2015 if they used more than 5GB of LTE a month, regardless if the system was congested or not. AT&T new unlimited plans seem to fall in line with their current price increases in their various services. Reduce the benefits, and raise the prices so we can make money – no matter how much money we lose in the long run.