AT&T's Grandfathered Unlimited Plans vs. AT&T's New Unlimited Plans
I switched from my grandfathered unlimited data plan after a decade because AT&T finally got it right.
Short and sweet, I've been with AT&T since the Cingular wireless days and had the unlimited data plan for at least 11 years. As bandwidth became more costly with the advent of the new age smartphone beginning with Apple's first iPhone in 2007, The days of unlimited data were numbered. For the first few years of AT&T's exclusive hold on the Apple iPhone, AT&T lost more than they gained with the iPhone. Other carriers passed on the iPhone as AT&T was not Apple's first choice. Carriers saw the model, and understood just how much this was going to cost the carrier to support. They were right It would prove to be a very costly risk. But AT&T's sales grew as people switched to the "big bell" company just for the iPhone and they partook in other items AT&T had to offer. Several years later, every major carrier has the iPhone.
But you already knew that. To help what I can only assume as an effort to at worst break even, AT&T slowly began to phase out the unlimited plans. If you were already on an unlimited data plan you were allowed to keep it but if you made certain changes to your account, you ran the risk of losing it. As these plans phased out, and the emergence of YouTube, Netflix and other streaming media companies. The stock in Unlimited data grew. You can still find AT&T sim cards on eBay with unlimited plans going for $2000 USD EASILY.
Ok enough of the background. It's all relevant, but thats not why you are here. As an unlimited data plan holder for over a decade, I would not change from that plan for anything. I'd said that in order for me to do so, AT&T would have to come out with something better....
AND THEY DID.
in 2013 carriers began reintroducing unlimited data plans. But it wasn't until recently when Verizon got back into the unlimited game that AT&T started to begin making key changes. In late February 2017 AT&T introduced a new Unlimited Data Plan. In order to get it, you had to subscribe to AT&T's newly acquired DirectTV service. This was supposed to be the answer to Verizon's newly introduced unlimited data plan. No subscriptions, just unlimited freaking data, the way unlimited data was, the way it should be. With T-Mobile, Sprint, and now Verizon having having unlimited data plans without special stipulations like having to subscribe to some additional service, AT&T loyalists like myself were not enthused. Two weeks later in Early March 2017 AT&T Introduced two NEW unlimited data plans and this is where it got good. This is also where I got skeptical. I went through these plans with a fine toothed comb. I couldn't find the flaw. They lowered my bill, gave me the unlimited data I wanted, and then some additional cool stuff. These new plans are The Unlimited Choice, and the Unlimited Plus.
Your Grandfathered Unlimited Data Plan
You had all of the data you needed to stream how you wanted with no change in definition. Only subject to throttling after 22GB of data were used and you happen to be on a cell tower that had congestion. If you were not in a heavy traffic area, you likely saw no difference at all. But the slow down when you were was brutal. Near 2g speeds. (Remember Edge?)
If you have a Grandfathered Unlimited Data Plan and want to switch to something that works as your current plan, this is NOT the plan for you. Its the cheaper economy plan for those on a budget.
Price: $60 for 1 Line
$115 for 2 Lines
$20 for each additional line
Streaming Video: You can only stream in standard definition. Your videos are streamed at 1.5mbps
Data speed: You are capped at 3mbps regardless of being on the 4G LTE, the current standard in high speed data. To put this in perspective, in some areas, you're getting 60mbps of LTE. Download the Speedtest.net app on your phones app store and test your current speeds right now to see what you're getting. There is a good change its more than 3mbps.
Price: $90 for 1 Line
$145 for 2 Lines
$20 for each additional line
Streaming Video: Able to stream in the High Definition (1080p) at the highest speeds your device can deliver. Comes with a feature called Stream Saver already turned on. You'll need to turn this off in order do this. Its easy and its available on your account online or on the app. More on this in a second.
Data Speeds: The highest speeds your 4g LTE device can handle when you turn stream saver off.
Stream Saver: Stream Saver is the feature that helps limit your data usage by delivering your content in standard definition. You're on an unlimited data plan so why limit the usage? For me, I immediately turned it off. If you are concerned about a potential slow down from usage of more than 22GB, then you could turn this feature on. This isn't a hidden feature, nothing AT&T is trying to get over on you. they are very transparent about it and its easy to disable.
Tethering: AT&T won't let you tether on your Grandfathered Unlimited Data plan. On the Unlimited Plus, you can. Its unlimited data but the throttling may start after 10GB of tethered data. Your other data won't be affected. but like the 22GB "limit" you might experience slow downs at times and areas with a congested cell tower.
Other Goodies: You can save 25 dollars off your DirectTV or DirecTV Now bill. Savings are automatic as long as your DirecTV or DirecTV now account has the same email and phone number as your AT&T account.
Features of Both Plans
Talk and Text: Unlimited
Roam North America: Unlimited talk, text and data anywhere in North America (Mexico, United States and Canada)
Discounts: Millitary discount of 15%
Auto Bill Pay: $5
Paperless Billing: $5
International Usage: Access your unlimited talk, text and data as you would at home in 100 countries around the world for a daily fee of $10. Only on the days you use it. No need to do anything extra. Just open an email or dial a number and its activated. To see which countries you can use the Day pass in, click here. For countries where you cannot use the International Day Pass, you can use AT&T's passport. For information on Passport, click here. To compare all of AT&T's international plans click here.
Additional Lines: $20. Each line you add will only be $20 AND it will also have unlimited talk text and data. If you choose to add a mobile hotspot (for example a MIFI Device) as an additional line, that MIFI will have unlimited data. (Subject to possible throttling after 22GB of data) You read that right. I asked that question also TWICE. Thats unlimited data on a portable mobile hotspot.
Unlimited data and everything else is per device. Nothing is shared. I have an iPhone and an iPad. Before, I had to have a separate data plan for my iPad (5GB for $50.) I switched to the unlimited plus and no longer have to have an additional data plan. I only need to pay the $20 access fee and now my iPad has unlimited data. If I use 10Gb of tethering on my iPad and experience a slowdown, It will not affect my iPhone and vice versa or any other device I might have on my line.
The biggest factor in deciding to leave my Grandfathered Unlimited Data plan was being sure that non of the data was shared between devices. I asked several times to several different employees and all assured me that it wasn't. I even asked a boatload of questions in a chat which you can see below.
The plan gives me my unlimited data, and lowers my bill. I'm truly not losing anything and have not seen any funny business. If I do, I'll be sure to let you know.
Below is the chat I had with the AT&T representative. If there is anything else you'd like to know that I didn't cover, leave a comment and or send an email from the front page of the site :)
Reference Number: 723488270352016415
DATE/TIME: 2017-03-07 21:58:25
Your chat transcript:
PLEASE DO NOT REPLY TO THIS MESSAGE - All replies are automatically deleted.
Jessica : Welcome to AT&T Chat. How may we help you today?
Me : I have a question about the unlimited plus plan
Jessica : Thank you for visiting AT&T! I would be happy to assist you with that unlimited plan (:. My name is Jessica, may I ask who I have the pleasure of chatting with?
Me : My name is Corey
Jessica : Its great to meet you Corey! How are you today?
Me : I'm well
Jessica : Wonderful!
Jessica : What questions do you have on that UNlimited Plus plan?
Me : I just want to be sure I understand it fully before I make the switch. I've been on the Grandfathered unlimited plan for over 10 years. The new plan looks good but I want to be sure.
Jessica : I completely understand!
Me : I have two devices on my account. an iPhone 7 plus and iPad pro on the AT&T Next plan.
Me : Will both my iPhone and iPad have unlimited data?
Jessica : That is correct (:
Me : So if I switch, I will no longer have to pay for the separate data plan I am paying for with my iPad?
Me : I am paying the 50 bucks for 5gb currently with my ipad
Jessica : It would just be one plan. The unlimited Plus plan is $145 for two lines plus your device installment cost and tax.
Me : and once I complete the installment costs, the only thing I'll have pay is the cost of the plan?
Jessica : That in correct (:
Me : not a separate plan but it will all be one plan for that one price?
Jessica : Correct (:
Me : wow!
Me : and if I want to add another line, it will just be 20 dollars?
Me : and that other line will have unlimited data as well?
Jessica : Yep! Just $20 plus that installment plan and they will share that unlimited data! I am happy to help you get that changed tonight! Arey ou logged into your myATT account?
Me : I'm not ready to change it yet. I still have a few more questions
Jessica : Absolutley!
Me : what if the device I add is a mobile hotspot device like the AT&T Unite. will that hotspot also have unlimited data?
Jessica : That is corrct.
Me : WOW!
Jessica : I love this new unlimited plan (:
Me : AT&T only offers 3 mobile hotspot devices?
Jessica : That is correct.
Me : Is there any reason that I'm overlooking that would be a good reason to keep the grandfathered unlimited plan?
Me : It just seems too good to be true
Me : I have had ATT try to get me off that plan before and the offerings weren't as good.
Jessica : In my opinion the new plans are less expensive and a much better deal tahn the older plans, and they are new and improved
Jessica : AT&T is looking to find a better plan for everyone!
Me : I'm very tempted to add the new plan. What will happen to my current and pass do bill? I'll switch immediately if AT&T would offer some form of credit for much of it.
Me : I've been with AT&T for 12 years!
Me : I've been loyal
Jessica : Your current bill would be adjusted, but you would have to pay that past due bill still.
Me : Ahh! Ok.
Me : if the other line I add is a cell phone, I'd only have to pay an additional 20 dollars?
Me : NO cost for an additional plan?
Jessica : Thatis correct.
Me : assuming there were no installments
Me : Get outta here! are you serious?
Jessica : Completely :D
Me : whats the catch
Jessica : There is tax, of course.
Me : well yeah the tax
Me : There has got to be a catch
Jessica : There is not (:
Me : and then there is the roam north america feature
Me : ok what if I want to go to England. what about the data use then?
Jessica : You are able to get an international package so you are not paying outrageous rates for use overseas
Me : I also saw something on AT&T's site that said ask about paying 10 bucks for 1gb of data for a tablet
Me : why would I want to do that if I can get all of this unlimited?
Jessica : The older unlimited plans did cost more to have a tablet, so thet offered that plan as an alternative.
Me : gotcha
Me : ok the tethering...
Jessica : 10GB monthly per line on capable devices, after which AT&T may slow speed to 128 Kbps.
Me : Is it 10gb of tethering per device or is that 10gb shared among devices
Jessica : That is per device.
Me : Sweet Christmas!
Me : wow!
Jessica : (:
Me : now if I go over the 10 gb, will it automatically slow to 128kbs or is that just in congested areas
Jessica : That is just in congested areas.
Me : Hot diggigity!
Me : This new plan is amazing!
Me : is there any contracts?
Me : with this plan do I have to sign up for a contract of any sort?
Jessica : It is 100% contract free (:
Me : what about the mobile hotspot devices like the AT&T Unite, do I have to buy those under any contract?
Jessica : You can buy them out of contract, but a lot of the times they are less expensive with a 2 year contract.
Me : what is the 2 year contract for if I'm adding it to my unlimited plan?
Jessica : It is just for the device. That you will have it on the unlimited plan and it will have service with AT&T for 2 years
Me : do you know what the penalty is if I ended that contract early with that device?
Jessica : It is $150 - $4 for every month you have service on it.
Me : last question
Me : for the unlimited plan, do I have to sign up for paperless billing and auto pay?
Jessica : Im all ears. Or eys, in this case.
Me : lol
Jessica : You do not have to, but you do get up to $10 off when you do.
Me : ok so let me understand this...
Jessica : Absolutely (:
Me : when I look at my account it tells me that if I switch to the Unlimited plus plan, I'll be paying $155. That price is not including taxes, nor is it including my installment plan. I understand this. But is that price which I am seeing in myAtt the price WITH the 10 dollar discount or the price BEFORE the 10 dollar discount
Jessica : That is before.
Me : WHAAAAT?!
Me : so if I enroll in both autopay and paperless billing, I could be paying 145?
Jessica : That is correct (:
Me : what if I just enroll in paperless billing
Jessica : You may be part if that, but not the full $10.
Me : so like maybe 5 or something
Me : gotcha
Jessica : That is correct (:
Me : Well Jessica you have been freaking awesome! I been looking for a subject matter expert on this new plan. I know I have complex questions and google just wasn't answering it all.
Me : Thank you so much.
Jessica : My pleasure! (: Before we part ways, have I answered all of your questions today? I want to make sure you have all the information you need before you sign off!
Me : Is it cool if I have your email address incase I have more questions? Its just that when you find someone who is able to answer all of your questions, you kinda wanna hold on to them.
Me : I know I won't get you again if I come here to chat
Me : you have answered all of my questions by the way
Jessica : I am unable to give out that information, however you can chat in at anytime with any questions you may come up with (: Were all pretty much experts on this new plan (:
Me : thank you so much Jessica!
Jessica : You are so welcome! Thank you so much for allowing me to assist you! :D It's been an absolute pleasure speaking with you- You were a blast! You have been delightful! Thank you for choosing AT&T. Enjoy your night! (:
I am not an employee of AT&T nor do I currently own any AT&T stock. I'm a current AT&T subscriber and have been critical of the company when necessary. This is not a paid review. I just know that there are others out there who had the same questions about this plan that I had.