Verizon misled firefighters about limits of “unlimited data,” senators say.
T-Mobile announced today that it’s extending Simple Global, its free roaming service, to nearly every country in the world. The feature, which is available to everyone on T-Mobile’s One plan and some customers on older plans, includes 2G-speed data in 210 countries for no extra cost. Although some free data is certainly better than no free data, “2G speeds” are so slow that the majority of applications may simply not work, and you’ll struggle to send and receive picture messages, make VOIP phone calls, or send emails.
The better news is that T-Mobile is now offering a simple LTE data pass when roaming. The pass costs $5 per day (per line), and gets the user up to 512MB of LTE-speed data. That cost isn’t bad at all, and the passes can be bought through T-Mobile’s app.
Some people will probably be aggreivated at the extra step required to go buy a pass just to use normal-speed data abroad, but the safeguard means that you won’t be hit with accidental data roaming charges, which have long been a problem for travellers on postpaid plans. The $5 per day pass also gets users unlimited calls, which is a nice touch.
“More than one in three families planning vacations this year intend to travel internationally, and Verizon and AT&T want you to pay twice as much every day when you travel abroad – it’s ridiculous!” said John Legere, T-Mobile’s CEO, in a press release. “With T-Mobile ONE, you just take your phone with you – turn it on as usual and it works – no worrying over your wireless bill, just enjoy your family time and see the sights!”
The additional Simple Global countries will go into effect July 22nd, while the $5 data passes will be available starting August 1st.
Good things never last, and that doubly goes for unlimited data plans. Xfinity Mobile, Comcast’s wireless reseller that used to offer one of the best unlimited plans on the market, just sent an email to customers warning them about upcoming changes to the plan. As you might expect, these changes are not good.
Two features of the unlimited plan are getting nixed: Video streams are now going to be limited to 480p standard definition, and mobile hotspot speeds are getting throttled to 600kbps, what networks call “3G speeds.” Those changes bring Xfinity Mobile’s unlimited plans in line with the rest of the big competitors, which include similar restrictions, and there’s now much less of a reason to jump ship to Xfinity Mobile.
Here’s the email that Xfinity Mobile sent to customers:
To help you conserve data, we’ve established 480p as the standard resolution for streaming video through cellular data. This can help you save money if you pay By the Gig and take longer to reach the 20 GB threshold if you have the Unlimited data option.
Later this year, 720p video over cellular data will be available as a fee-based option with your service. In the meantime, you can request it on an interim basis at no charge. Learn more
This update only affects video streaming over cellular data. You can continue to stream HD-quality video over WiFi, including at millions of Xfinity WiFi hotspots.
If you have the Unlimited data option, your speeds on any device connected to a personal hotspot will not exceed 600 Kbps. At this speed, you’ll conserve data so that it takes longer to reach the 20 GB threshold but you’ll still be able to do many of the online activities you enjoy.
Want faster speeds when using a personal hotspot? The By the Gig data option will continue to deliver 4G speeds for all data traffic.
Of the two changes, the limits to hotspots are probably going to be more annoying. 480p video on a smartphone is just fine, but capping speeds at 600kbps can make it challenging to do anything practical.
Xfinity Mobile still has one of the cheapest single-user unlimited data plans, at $45 per month, and the Verizon network that it runs on has arguably the best coverage nationwide. But with these changes, it’s looking less like a steal, and more like the rest of the unlimited data plans on the market — not really unlimited.
AT&T alters unlimited plans and makes the cheapest one $5 more expensive.
For T-Mobile CEO John Legere, poking fun at Verizon and AT&T is seemingly part of his job description. Whether he’s picking up their disgruntled customers on Twitter or coming up with Trumpian nicknames, respect for the competition certainly isn’t a maxim at T-Mobile HQ. The company’s latest stunt actually puts money behind Legere’s Twitter account, however, as T-Mobile is offering an extra discount to any AT&T grandfathered unlimited customers who want to jump ship.
As we noted last week, AT&T has hiked the cost of its grandfathered unlimited data plan for the third time in two years. The grandfathered plan is a longstanding thorn in AT&T’s side, and since it can’t formally kick customers off the network, it has been pricing them off the plan instead. Legere noticed the move a week later, and decided to offer any AT&T grandfathered unlimited customers an extra incentive to switch.
The deal isn’t bad: $250 via a prepaid card for anyone switching, and the deal stacks on top of T-Mobile’s existing Carrier Freedom, which will pay off your device payment or early termination fee on a different carrier if you switch. In total, you could be looking at $900 in savings between bill credits and pre-paid cards, although getting that much involves trading in an old phone and buying a new one.
The full details of Carrier Freedom (a longstanding T-Mobile deal) can be found here. The $250 Why The Hike deal starts Wednesday, June 20th, and run for a limited time. To qualify, you need to have a current and up-to-date Data Unlimited for iPhone on 4G LTE with VVM feature plan with AT&T.
Of course, as much as Legere likes to poke fun at the competition, T-Mobile is no stranger to quiet price hikes or shady activation fees, and its “unlimited” plan does have plenty of restrictions.