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Straight Talk and NET10 Data is Now Soft Capped at 2.5 GB Per Month



TracFone brands Straight Talk and NET10 changed their Web pages and Terms of Service today to add the phrase:

"Unlimited Plans include 2.5 GB of high speed data per 30 day cycle. After 2.5 GB, your data speed will be reduced for the remainder of the 30 day cycle. High speed data is restored once a new 30 day service plan is added."

Previously these plans were advertised as including "Unlimited" data although many users found that the plans were anything but, with data being shut off or severely throttled after using as little as 1 GB in a month or 100 MB in a day.

The 2.5 GB soft cap is similar to with what many other prepaid providers are doing. Provided the TracFone companies enforce it as advertised, it's a win for customers who can using a data monitoring app can keep track of how much data they are using to help stay within the limits.

I've found the free 3G Watchdog Android app to be accurate to within about 5% compared to my operator's (T-Mobile MVNO PTel) online usage tracker. When I was in Mexico on vacation and using a Telcel Mexico SIM, 3G Watchdog was equally accurate compared with Telcel's online usage records. Unfortunately, Straight Talk and NET10 don't provide online data usage tracking. Their support representatives claim they can't tell see how much you have used either. No on-device tracker can be completely accurate compared with what the network says you have used, so I wouldn't push 2.5 GB limit too closely.

While I have high hopes that NET10 and Straight Talk's new data policy will be transparent and user friendly parts of both operator's terns of service worry me. "Continuous" video streaming is still banned, whatever that means. It seems to me that if a user pays for  2.5 GB of data per month they should be able to use it in any legal way they want. But the terms seem to allow Straight Talk to cut off your data for watching YouTube,  even if you haven't used up your 2.5 GB.

There's also an ambiguous line in the T&C, which appears to be saying that if you pay for a year of service in advance and exceed 2.5 GB in any month Straight Talk can throttle you for the rest of the year! "If the 2.5 GB threshold is reached, data speed will be reduced to 2G for the remainder of that plan cycle. High speed data is restored once a new 30 day service plan begins at the end of your last 30 day plan cycle. Straight Talk currently offers Unlimited Minutes, Texts and Data Plans with 30, 90, 180 and 365 days of service. "  I recommend not buying anything but 30 day refills.

Update 9/30/2013: A Tracfone representative has assured me that if a user's data speeds are throttled, full data speeds will be restored at the start of the next 30 day plan month even if  a 90, 180 or 365 day plan is in effect.


36 comments:

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  1. I spoke with someone at Straight Talk, and I was clearly told the throttling would only last until the next renewal date. Full data speed would be restored next month, even if you use 90, 180, or 365 service day refill.

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    1. the word clearly doesn't apply to the tracfone brand.

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  2. once again, straight talk still can't give it to you straight.

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  3. does this confusing typical straight talk tos apply regardless of what carrier your phone runs on?

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  4. Why are they referencing Pandora? isn't that "streaming".

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    1. Anon: Where are they referencing Pandora? I text searched this post and your comment on it is the first reference to Pandora I see.

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    2. The Pandora reference is in the image at the top of this post. The image is from data.straighttalk.com.

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  5. I don't get this at all. More of the same. Still waiting for better Verizon based android phones not made by ZTE or Huawei.

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  6. Forget America Movil! There are better options out there with less shenanigans.

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    1. I haven't found any better options compared to the mythical "Straight Talk" that would let you use data as promised. I'd go with them in a heartbeat if it wasn't the "cut you off for using 50mb in one day" stuff. The deal is that good.

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  7. Still dictating how you use your data, same old AM.

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  8. 2.5 is enough for me, so I'm sticking with Straighg Talk. I bought a micro sim card for a Nexus 5 when it comes out.

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  9. Can you do much of anything at 2G speeds? Check Gmail? Or is it just too painfully slow to do even that? Anyone know what ST 2G speed is like? I'm guessing 100-200 kbps.

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    1. Throttled users have mostly reported speed below 100 Kbps which is OK for checking Gmail using the app but too slow to be useful all all but the most basic Web browsing

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    2. I'm used to terrible Sprint coverage which is less than 1G typically. 2G speeds would be like the Autobahn for me.

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  10. HOFO ID Grateful4adviceSeptember 28, 2013 at 8:44 AM

    Straight Talk, like all the America Movil companies, is so dishonest I don't believe anything they say. It continues to surprise me why any one would use them as there are so many better MVNOs.

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  11. HOFO ID Grateful4adviceSeptember 28, 2013 at 8:53 AM

    If America Movil enforces this 2.5 GB policy as stated it will reduce the data for their customers on the Verizon, Tmobile and Sprint networks. Only customers on the ATT network would see an improvement.

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    1. Verizion users would also benefit. They have also getting throttled at well under 2.5 GB

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    2. HOw would at&t customers see an improvement?

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    3. But you still can't use your 2.5G how you want, amazing that people put up with this, I guess people don't mind being dictated to.

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    4. They used to get throttled at around 1 - 1.5 GB. Now they can supposedly use 2.5 GB.

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    5. We don't know yet whether Tracfone will enforce the terms of service against streaming, etc. Most carriers have unenforced provisions in their terms.

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  12. I think the whole throttle thing was is very dependent on your location and tower demand/post vs prepaid/priority.

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  13. Just out if curiosity, anybody know what cut of the $45 the mvno gets vs the actual provider?

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  14. That depends on how much customers use their phones. The way MVNO contracts typically work the MVNO buys minutes, texts, and data at a fixed price that's probably less than a penny per minute, text, MB.

    The MVNO is playing the law of averages hoping that customers won't use thousands of minutes, texts or MBs. They use alleged terms of service violations to cut off and get rid of un-profitable users.

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  15. I believe that there are two separate things going on:

    1) when a tower gets overloaded, everyone's data slows down. The mobile operators (AT&T, Verizon, etc) all use use software that gives certain classes of customers higher priority on a tower than others. To keep the system usable for first responders and highly profitable contract customers, prepaid and MVNO customers get their data cut off or slowed down temporarily during high volume periods.

    2) Most, probably all, MVNOs pay for data by the MB. If an unlimited customer uses too much data, the MVNO loses money. Throttles and caps keep anyone from using so much data that they are unprofitable to the MVNO.

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    1. Oh, I thought it was a flat % of the total monthly price.

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  16. Dennis. On Tracfone, it looks like you can stream on 3G. The T.O.S. is different than Straight Talk. But the Centura and those other 3 smartphones they plan to release are junk.

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    1. They aren't junk to the people who use and would sign up for tracfone, quite the opposite .

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  17. Dennis, Having read the Net10 terms and conditions on monthly plans, the wording is a little different than what you have in this article. It says:

    "NET10 currently offers two 30 Day Monthly Plans: a $50/30 Day Monthly Unlimited Plan that includes unlimited talk, text and data (includes at least 2.5 GB of high speed data per 30 day plan);"

    Notice the words "at least". I have not read straight talks wording

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    1. The "at least" part is unique to NET10. I wouldn't make too much of it. What counts is the criteria that the network operator or Tracfone's software uses to determine when to throttle an account.

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  18. 3 of the smartphones that Tracfone are releasing have been released on Straight Talk. All 3 reliability has been zero. The Dynamic lacks power and internal user memory. The Huawei Plus has the usual Huawei issues, and the Centura has it issues with being very laggy. The people buying those phones have no clue what they are buying.

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  19. Just two weeks ago I talked to someone at Straight Talk support and they told me they would still arbitrarily kill access for someone though thought was using too much data per day, by subjective standards. Does this news mean that they won't do this any more?

    Won't kill access for watching Netflix and using 90Mb in one day... listening to online radio? Anything goes as long as it is not the direct video hosting, or hotspot which makes sense to prohibit?

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  20. Dennis l posted this info already about the cap..im a retailer for all of the prepaid companies and this was told to us when we got the att sims back....

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