The Hidden Limitations of “Unlimited” Plans

There’s a trend in the market today of big-name carriers offering “unlimited” data plans that seem like the perfect answer for heavy internet users. Promises of never-ending data may sound great, but before you answer the siren call of data without limits, be sure to take a closer look at what you’ll really get.

Data may be unlimited, but speeds are not guaranteed

While many carriers offer “unlimited” data to a certain extent, their plans are filled with a lot of asterisks and if/when scenarios that will affect the quality of your service. Only a certain amount of data per month is guaranteed to be delivered at 4G LTE speeds.  As of March 1, 2017, Verizon / AT&T caps it at 22 gigabytes; T-Mobile at 28 gigabytes. After you go over your 4G LTE cap, you are eligible to be “deprioritized” for the remainder of your billing cycle and your connection reduced to “3G speeds.” Depending on how much streaming or data-consuming work you do from your home or office, this could result in a week or two of streamlined internet speeds at the top of your billing cycle, followed by weeks of frustratingly slower connectivity.

Location (rural vs. urban) makes a big difference

In rural areas there is typically a lower cell tower density (a lower number of cell towers per square mile), which means that more customers will be sharing signals from each tower. This isn’t an issue for suburban and urban areas where cell tower density is high and able to serve more people. In a rural setting however, the more people connecting to each tower will increase signal congestion, increasing the likelihood that you will be bumped to lower “3G speeds” after you exceed your guaranteed 4G data cap.

The rules change depending on what device you use

For most carriers, “unlimited” data only applies to a phone itself. Using your phone as a dedicated hotspot (so other devices can use your cellular data) triggers a different set of rules:  only 10 GB of 4G LTE hotspot data are allowed per billing cycle; after that, you’re immediately demoted to “3G speeds” for the rest of the billing cycle.

Stream all you want? Not so fast!

What does “3G speeds” mean? That’s a good question! “3G speed” is undefined. Unofficial reports indicate that it can vary anywhere from .5 megabits per second to 1.5 megabits per second. To put that speed into perspective, Netflix requires 5 megabits per second download speed for HD video. Streaming Netflix HD uses up to 3 gigabytes per hour; at a minimum speed of 5 megabits per second.

In a world where Netflix, Hulu, YouTube and other streaming services have resulted in an entirely new way of connecting with the world, Softcom customers’ data use has been steadily increasing year by year, using an average of 130.5 gigabytes each per month as of January 2017. As you can see, “unlimited” plans that can downgrade your speed once you exceed their pre-set caps are not the answer for providing the internet connection and speed you need.

Here at Softcom, we don’t play word games with our customers. We know that you want unlimited data – which is why we already provide it. We offer speedy, stress-free internet backed by next-gen 4G LTE technology and unlimited usage without data caps, overage charges, extra fees or hidden restrictions. Use as much as you want, we won’t stop you or slow you down.

Not sure which carrier, or plan, is right for you? Confused about data caps and coverage? We’ve got your back! Give one of our customer service professionals a call, we’re here to help.

Here are some additional considerations that can affect the bottom line of what you’re really getting: Truth About Unlimited Plans