Over the last two years, all four major wireless carriers have introduced unlimited data plans that have proved unsurprisingly popular. But despite the name, none of the plans are actually unlimited: there’s a “deprioritization threshold” that’s essentially a soft cap on data, limits on the quality of the video you can stream, and conditions on stuff like hotspot data. Just like the metered data plans of old, there are better and worse “unlimited” plans, and Verizon just launched the best and most expensive of all.
Called “Above Unlimited,” the plan costs a teeth-clenching $95 per month (plus taxes and fees) for the first line. In return, you get a deprioritization threshold of 75GB per month, 20GB of hotspot data, and five “TravelPasses” that get you unlimited data in most overseas countries for one day.
The end result is a plan that gives you a little more data than any of the competitors, but for a major price hike. The closest comparable plan is probably T-Mobile’s flagship One Plus International plan, which also costs $95 per month for a single line, but includes all taxes and fees. For that $95 users get a lot more, however: Unlimited mobile hotspot, free 3G data roaming, free Netflix, free GoGo in-flight Wi-Fi, and free overseas calling to most destinations. T-Mobile’s deprioritization threshold is 50GB on all of its unlimited plans, but when you consider hotspot data is controlled separately, it would take one hell of a Netflix addiction to hit 50GB per month, let alone Verizon’s 75.
Arguably, T-Mobile’s much cheaper One Plus plan, which offers 10GB of hotspot data, Netflix, GoGo, and almost everything else for $80 per month is a better deal. The only compelling reason to go with Verizon’s new unlimited plan is if you need lots of hotspot data and you’re tied to Verizon’s network; otherwise, a cheaper Verizon plan or one of T-Mobile’s offerings are likely better value.
Verizon’s other announcement today is going to be more relevant to most customers than a new and very expensive data plan. The company is now letting customers mix and match different unlimited plans on the same account, meaning you can have some lines on the $65 per month Go Unlimited, some on the mid-range Beyond Unlimited, and the lucky power users on the Above Unlimited plan. Of course, none of this would be necessary if companies would just make unlimited plans…unlimited, but straightforward and simple options are probably too much to ask of carriers these days.