Home - , , - AT&T Prepaid Adds New $85 ($75 w autopay) Unlimited, Unthrottled Plan. Is it Worth It?

AT&T Prepaid Adds New $85 ($75 w autopay) Unlimited, Unthrottled Plan. Is it Worth It?

AT&T Prepaid has quietly added a new plan to their lineup. Priced at $85/month, or $75 with auto-pay, the plan includes unlimited, unthrottled data, subject to de-prioritization after 22 GB. The plan also includes unlimited HD quality video streaming and 6 GB of high speed hotspot. After 6 GB hotspot speeds are throttled to 128 kbps.

With the new plan, AT&T's unlimited monthly plan lineup is as follows (prices are per month, all plans include unlimited domestic talk and picture messaging and unlimited global text messaging.

  • $30 ($25 with autopay) - no data included, add 250 MB for $5/month
  • $35 ($30 with autopay) -  unlimited data, first 1 GB at high speeds. HD video. Unused data rolls over. Plan data is used before rollover data and rollover data expires after 30 days. Hotspot available
  • $45 ($40 with autopay) -  unlimited data, first 6 GB at high speeds. HD video. Unlimited calls to Mexico and Canada. Unlimited voice and messaging and 6 GB of high speed data roaming in Mexico and Canada. Unused data rolls over. Plan data is used before rollover data and rollover data expires after 30 days. Hotspot available
  • $65 ($60 with autopay) -  unlimited data at 3 mbps, video at 1,5 mbps, subject to de-prioritization after 22 GB. Unlimited calls to Mexico and Canada. Unlimited voice and messaging and high speed data roaming in Mexico and Canada. Hotspot NOT available.
  • $85 ($75 with autopay) -  unlimited high speed data, subject to de-prioritization after 22 GB. HD video. Unlimited calls to Mexico and Canada. Unlimited voice and messaging and high speed data roaming in Mexico and Canada. Hotspot available.

Here's how AT&T's $85 new plan compares with other unlimited high speed data plans:
Name Price Network Hotspot Video  Deprioritization Threshold Notes
Ultra Mobile $49 Independent T-Mobile MVNO N/A "optimized" 30 GB Unlimited global texting and unlimited calling to 75 countries
Lycamobile $50 Independent T-Mobile MVNO N/A unspecified 32 GB Unlimited global texting and unlimited calling to 60 countries
Simple Mobile $50, $45 with autopay TracFone owned T-Mobile MVNO N/A 480p Unspecified Unlimited global texting and unlimited calling to 60 countries. Unlimited roaming in Mexico and 15 Latin American countries
Boost $50* Sprint Owned 8 GB 480p 23 GB
MetroPCS $50* T-Mobile Owned N/A 480p, $10/month extra for HD 35 GB
Cricket $55, $50* with auto pay AT&T Owned 8 GB for $10 extra 480p 22 GB High speed data throttled to 3 mbps. Unlimited International SMS. Calls and MMS to and roaming in Mexico and Canada
Page Plus $55, $50 with autopay TracFone owned Verizon MVNO N/A Unspecified Unspecified $10 international call credit
Straight Talk $55, $54 with autopay TracFone owned AT&T, Verizon or T-Mobile MVNO N/A 480p Unspecified
Cricket $60, $55* with auto pay AT&T Owned 8 GB for $10 extra HD 22 GB High speed data throttled to 8 mbps. Calls and MMS to and roaming in Mexico and Canada
Simple Mobile $60, $57 with autopay TracFone owned T-Mobile MVNO 10 GB 480p Unspecified Unlimited roaming in Mexico and 15 Latin American coutries
Boost $60* Sprint Owned 20 GB HD 23 GB
MetroPCS $60* T-Mobile Owned 10 GB 480p, $10/month extra for HD 35 GB
AT&T Prepaid $65, $60 with autopay AT&T owned N/A 480p 22 GB High speed data throttled to 3 mbps. Unlimited International SMS and MMS. Unlimited calls and messaging  to and roaming in Mexico and Canada
Verizon Prepaid $75 Verizon owned unlimited at 600 kbps 480p data always subject to de-priotitiztion if network busy Unlimited international SMS. Unlimited calls and texts to Canada and Mexico
AT&T Prepaid $85, $75 with autopay AT&T owned 6 GB HD 22 GB Unlimited International SMS and MMS. Unlimited calls and messaging  to and and roaming in Mexico and Canada
* Price includes all taxes.

I've omitted unlimited plans from ROK Mobile, US Mobile and Xfinity Mobile because their "unlimited" data is actually throttled to 128 kbps after 15 - 20 GB rather than being subject to de-prioritization only when the network is busy. I'm also very skeptical that any MVNO can offer truly unlimited high speed data with only de-prioritization when the network is congested.  Mobile operators have never offered MVNOs unlimited data at a flat price. Data, minutes and texts are are sold at per unit prices. With unlimited plans, customers who use too much of any resource cost an MVNO money and have to be cut off or severely throttled if the MVNO is to survive. It you expect to use 20 GB a moth or more of data, I recommend using an mobile operator owned brand, rather than an MVNO.

As to whether AT&T Prepaid's $85 plan is worth it, like every other plan, that depends. It is a premium plan on a better network than T-Mobile or Sprint's and without Verizon Prepaid's 24/7 de-prioritization, throttled hotspot and video. On the other hand, the 6 GB limit on high-speed hotspot use is ridiculously low. If AT&T can make money providing 22 GB of high speed on device data before de-prioritization at this price point, surely they can provide 22 GB of high speed hotspot too.

The AT&T plan might make sense as a replacement for unavailable wired broadband  for someone living in a remote area (no network congestion) who happens to have an AT&T tower nearby and can use something like Miracast to share Netflix and Prime video to a big screen. But even in that scenario Cricket's  $55 (with autopay) plan would work nearly as well for $20 a month less.

Source: AT&T via Howard Forums

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60 comments:

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  1. Good to see you posting articles, Dennis. Hope you're feeling better.

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  2. I think it's a good deal. It is a bit more pricy than others, but it's good about the high speed unlimited roaming in Canada and Mexico plus the calling to and from those countries as well. Nice seeing you posting again, Dennis :)

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  3. Oh, $10 auto pay discount is great.

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  4. Just curious. Who the heck needs all this data? Is it people without home internet?

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    1. Over on Reddit, you'll find plenty of people talk about how they have boring jobs and watch a lot of Netflix/YouTube/Amazon Prime video at work for hours each day.

      And, yes, you also find people who have only shaky 1.5 Mbps DSL connections available at home (no cable Internet, no fiber, etc.) -- so mobile data is the only way to consistently stream video.

      You also find people who have home Internet with a capped monthly limit, and they switch to unlimited mobile plans for the last week or so of the month, when they get close to the cap.

      I've even seen people mention that they prefer not to use Wi-Fi at home because they forget to turn it off at the end of each night, which drains their phone battery too quickly the next day.

      Delete
    2. Yes, for people without home internet. Remember in the U.S. high speed internet is not available everywhere. It may also be suitable for single individuals who may not want to spend $60+ just on home internet service alone when there's no one else other than them using it and that they can get internet at work. Lastly, it's also good for people that want to watch movies on the go.

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    3. I prefer to use data only when I'm home now because I'm paying for unlimited, may as well use it, and when I'm out because I don't trust public Wi-Fi.

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    4. yes, wired broadband not available here.

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  5. Welcome back, Dennis!

    Dennis - your chart says that the new $85/$75 AT&T Prepaid unlimited plan is "throttled to 3 mbps." But that's not reflected on the AT&T Prepaid website. Their footnote 3 says "limited to a max of 3Mbps" only for the $65 unlimited plan. Footnote 4 does not say that same thing about the $85 plan -- only that it has lower priority data than postpaid accounts.

    Because of that, I'm not sure that Cricket unlimited is the better option than the new $85/$75 AT&T Prepaid unlimited plan.

    For the user in a remote area Miracast'ing to a television -- Cricket's 480p video resolution limit makes for a far less satisfying picture quality than AT&T Prepaid's HD video at, say, 13 Mbps.

    I could easily see this hypothetical user spending an extra $20 per month for all his video to be decent quality on his 40 inch television, if it's his main source of entertainment. Plus, that extra $20 gets you high-speed apps and web browsing the entire month.

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  6. The author of this article should get up to date on the quality of networks.
    T-Mobile is now clearly above AT&T and just below Verizon. See latest yearly results for 2017 with open signal and among other tests such as PCMag.

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    1. The author of this article is being very objective and his comparison of plans and networks. I have Tmobile, but I need to use Cricket when I travel because TMobile hasn't caught up to AT&T in terms of nationwide coverage.

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    2. T-Mobile does have faster average data speeds than AT&T. But T-Mobile still lacks native coverage in many places where AT&T is available. T-Mobile still doesn't cover most of the Oregon Coast, North-Eastern, Wisconsin or anywhere in Alaska. AT&T does. I have both AT&T and T-Mobile and I've been to a number of places that had AT&T but not T-Mobile but I never been anywhere with T-Mobile but no AT&T. If you travel at all beyond cities and interstate highways, coverage is more important than speed.

      T-Mobile is growing its coverage but it still has a long way to go before it matches AT&T.

      Delete
    3. "I've been to a number of places that had AT&T but not T-Mobile but I never been anywhere with T-Mobile but no AT&T"

      Eastern New Mexico. Your underlying contention is very relative to location. T-Mobile on band 12 gets coverage in many more boondock locations where I live than does the AT&T tower. Before band 12 I would agree totally.

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    4. T-Mobile fanboys forget that T-Mobile supplemented their LTE coverage with 700 MHz. AT&T's (and Verizon's) PRIMARY networks are 700 MHz.

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    5. The US is a mobile nation. Nationwide coverage issues do matter... As for "Your underlying contention is very relative to location", that's fine and good for people who never leave their homes. But once they do leave their homes, the issue of which network is good overall nationwide because overall a lot more important.

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    6. Denis you state the quality of the networks based on your own experience. AT&T used to be better not anymore. I trust sites that getting much more data from all over states such as Open signal (actually a specialized site in such of tests/results all over world) and PCMag. You just can't go against them...

      Delete
    7. Anon February 19, 2018 at 5:06 AM
      You interpret those sites results to suit your bias or cherry pick a particular performance parameter. Truth is if you want a native signal over a wider area t-mo is not close to the big 2. Speed? Yep, t-mo can excel and beat them, at times, in specific places.

      Delete
    8. I won't speak on PCMag as I haven't seen their report, but anon506 if you're also anon1241 and quoting OpenSignal to support a "T-Mobile now has better nationwide coverage than AT&T argument," you are looking at facts through rose (magenta) colored glasses. OpenSignal gives T-Mobile an edge over AT&T in nationwide 4G (LTE) availability, not overall (2G+3G+4G) network coverage.

      Delete
  7. What is the difference between throttling and de-prioritization?

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    1. Throttling slows you down to practically unusable speeds, I.e. 128kbs after your full allotment of high speed data is used up. Deprioritazation temporarily slows you down if you are near a crowded place or a tower with lots of congestion, but it's no where near as slow, and your speeds go right back up when you are away from the congestion.

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    2. In big cities and/or on constantly slammed towers? None.

      De-prioritization can actually be worse than throttling because the latter often comes at declared speeds that aren't too difficult to sustain (128 Kbps, etc.) I've seen the former go as slow as 3-5 Kbps.

      Delete
    3. "Deprioritazation temporarily slows you down"

      So basically just a type of throttling, under a different name.

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    4. No, throttling and de-prioritization can both slow you data, but they are different in how and when they occur and how they affect data speeds. The two comments above yours explain the differences clearly.

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    5. These are all network management practices. Some are designed to maximize throughput, some are designed to minimize latency, some are designed to maximize concurrent users, and others are designed to maximize CASH REVENUE BABY!

      The question is whether you are throttled unconditionally (allowance exceeded), or in a load-based scenario (bandwidth/user drops below a threshold). One is a customer-friendly best-effort approach (you can't "save" unused bandwidth), the other is solely punitive.

      Delete
  8. Welcome back, Dennis! Your absence had me concerned. Thanks for the informative/well written article. Looking forward to reading more of your articles.

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  9. Page plus has been measured on YouTube videos to be 5mbps down and 2mbps up on the Verizon network. Has anyone been able to stream Netflix or YouTube on ATT 3mbps down speed? Also the Sprint MVNO Boost Mobile has customers on their 4 for $100 plan and use over 1TB of data each month combined. The 1TB of usage equates to 250gb each phone per month about 8gb each day each phone where the Watch ESPN app uses the most data per hour almost 600mb per hour while YouTube uses only 75mb per hour

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  10. Thank you Dennis! Great to see you are on the mend. Thanks again!

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  11. Verizon prepaid looks like a better deal to me though

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  12. Ouch! This plan isn't any good at all. It's way too expensive.

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  13. I know someone on the Att UDP 3 mbps and they stream youtube for like 6-8 hours a day, I think at about 360 or 480, and they are just fine with it, they do it all day and have not complained to me that it does not work.

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    1. Guess nobody works nowadays.

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    2. Sounds like a good candidate for eye cancer

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    3. I stream like this all day on UDP but barery ever look at the screen. I want to keep my daily data consumption rate up pretty high.

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    4. Anon @ 544 PM
      Why in the wide wide world of sports would you "want to keep your daily data consumption rate up pretty high." ?

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    5. @Anon240, I am not anon544, but I do the same because I have a T-Mobile postpaid line and T-Mobile adjusts their de-prioritization limit based on the usage of the top 3%. They've already done so from 32 to 50GB.

      Delete
  14. This is a nice plan, but AT&T Prepaid still doesn't support Voice over LTE.

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    Replies
    1. How does that matter?! Their network is good enough to not need such gimmicks for voice calls

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    2. Just because Red is pushing volte, doesn't mean everyone else has to.

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    3. Isn't voLTE on AT&T also tied to HD voice, or is that just Verizon? I know on T-Mobile you don't need to be on the LTE network for HD voice calls.

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  15. "I'm also very skeptical that any MVNO can offer truly unlimited high speed data with only de-prioritization when the network is congested. Mobile operators have never offered MVNOs unlimited data at a flat price. Data, minutes and texts are are sold at per unit prices. With unlimited plans, customers who use too much of any resource cost an MVNO money and have to be cut off or severely throttled if the MVNO is to survive"
    so are you saying that the mvno's are fibbing and throttling us even when the network is NOT congested and even worse BEFORE the threshold is reached?

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    1. Most MVNO's proxy all of the data through a single datacenter in the middle of flyover country. That's why you get 300 msec pings. Just because your local tower conditions are good doesn't mean the edge network can handle the aggregated volume of the nationwide network. Of course you are also subject to throttling at the tower level if you are at a baseball game.

      Delete
  16. I'm on crickets unlimited 2 plan and I've been streaming Hulu, Netflix, and Youtube just fine with the 3 mbps speeds

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  17. I've compared Cricket 8 Mbps (non-unlimited) and AT&T postpaid side-by-side.

    On one-bar connections to the local tower, Cricket buffered and froze on 720p video every ~7 seconds, while AT&T postpaid did not buffer or freeze once.

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  18. Dennis - your chart still seems to be in error (?)

    It says that the new $85/$75 AT&T Prepaid unlimited plan is "throttled to 3 mbps." But that's not reflected on the AT&T Prepaid website:

    https://www.att.com/prepaid/plans.html

    Footnote 4 on that page says "limited to a max of 3Mbps" only for the $65 unlimited plan. Meanwhile, footnote 5 does not say that same thing about the $85 plan -- only that it has lower priority data than postpaid accounts ("you may experience slower speeds than other AT&T customers during network congestion").

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    1. Corrected, thanks for reporting the error.

      Delete
    2. You're welcome.

      And I think that lack of throttle is actually a big factor!

      To re-phrase my comment from yesterday:

      At 10 or 13 or 22 Mbps, the new AT&T Prepaid unlimited option is good enough to send 720p (or maybe even 1080p) YouTube/Netflix/Prime video by Miracast / "screen mirroring" to your 40-inch television.

      But Cricket's 3 Mbps throttle will buffer and downgrade your picture to 1996-era blocky 480p.

      If you watch a lot of television and movies each night, that's a big, big deal.

      On a tower with a 1-bar or even 2-bar LTE connection, that lack of throttle means a large difference in speed.

      Plus, with no throttle, all your apps (Facebook, Instragram, Snap, Tinder, etc) and web browsing will not be limited to 3 Mbps.

      I think that's worth an extra $20 / month over Cricket.

      Alternatively, you could spend an extra $10 / month to get the AT&T prepaid "iPad" unlimited LTE plan ($30 / month total), which can actually be used in any hotspot device, as a complete home Internet replacement.

      Reddit and HowardForums have a lot of reports of people doing that.

      Delete
  19. Welcome Back Dennis will Be Checking Back This Site Earlier In The Day For Any Updates You Post On Here

    ReplyDelete
  20. at home on cox internet, currently have used 120gb with like 5 days left for the current monthly cycle. most of that is watching streaming video on hulu, amazon prime video, cbs all access (a lot of repeat binge watching of star trek discovery), etc on apple tv and on my phone. if did not have cox, then could see how that could all be on only the at&t prepaid $85 plan on my phone with the unlimited video handling all of my video watching (but at 480p?), and then 22gb data before depriorization would be enough for everything else. my current cost for at&t prepaid is $45 plan paying via callingmart with promo codes for $40/month, and my cox 100 preferred plan with 5ghz 100gigabit speed is like $50/month. my current total=$90/month. so, would it be worth switching to only the $85 plan (discounted to $75)??? well, would save like as much as $15, but would be confined to only using my phone. if only had one device of my phone, then yeah maybe. but having like a dozen devices needing an internet connection at the house, well, switching to only that $85 plan does not work for me. why bother? thanks but no thanks.

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  21. Welcome back Dennis! Great to have you back!

    ReplyDelete
  22. Hi Dennis - a few other small corrections on the chart.

    Ultra Mobile is misspelled "Ulttra" Mobile.

    The Cricket $60 plan Note should probably say "High speed data throttled to 8 mbps", just like the $55 plan Note mentions the 3 Mbps throttle.

    Both of those Cricket unlimited plans' Notes should probably read: "Unlimited SMS to 38 countries. Calls and MMS to/from, and roaming in, Mexico and Canada."

    Both of the AT&T Prepaid unlimited plans Notes should probably change "Unlimited International SMS" to "Unlimited SMS and MMS to/from 118 countries."

    The Verizon Prepaid unlimited plan Note should probably change "Unlimited International SMS" to "Unlimited SMS and MMS to/from 248 countries and areas."

    (I'm surprised Cricket plays games with the SMS vs MMS distinction, given how important picture texts are to immigrants. Also, Verizon's 248 versus AT&T's 118 is a big deal for immigrants from those countries -- although Verizon pads its list with disputed islands and regions and with 'countries within countries', etc.)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I made most of your recommended changes.
      The Verizon site's prepaid page only advertises international texts, not MMS.
      Calling, texting, MMS from Mexico and Canada is redundant if the plan includes roaming in Mexico and Canada.

      I don't think that international MMS is popular as it's not very reliable and costs the recipient money. I believe people sharing media internationally are more likely to use social media or OTT apps rather than MMS.

      Delete
  23. Opt in or out of AT&T PREPAID Sponsored Data - https://www.att.com/esupport/article.html#!/wireless/KM1248135

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    1. have the $45/month at&t prepaid plan (~$40/month with promo code at callingmart). and got this text today:

      AT&T Free Msg: Now your plan includes sponsored data. This means, for example, that customers who have DIRECTV or U-verse(R) TV can now stream movies and shows with the TV app without it counting against their plan data. Available only in the U.S. (excludes Puerto Rico and U.S. Virgin Islands.) See att.com/prepaidsponsoreddata

      following the links deeper for more info, looks like only for watching using directv & uverse apps. apparently not for other streaming video services like hulu, amazon prime video, cbs all access, youtube, netflix, etc. still got to pay at&t one way or another (like you have paid subscription for directv & uverse owned by at&t).

      https://www.att.com/esupport/article.html#!/wireless/KM1131836
      Data Free TV eligibility:
      This offer is available to eligible AT&T wireless or AT&T PREPAID customers in the United States only. Not available in Puerto Rico and U.S. Virgin Islands. International roaming is not included in this offer and data charges will apply.
      Streaming content:
      This feature is for viewing content while signed in to the DIRECTV, DIRECTV NOW or U-verse apps only. Advertisements and non-streaming app activity may incur data usage.

      Delete
  24. There's yet another change to AT&T Prepaid: the advertised $65/mo. plan data is no longer limited to 3 mbps, but is subject to deprioritization. Still no hotspot/tethering.

    At least on my AT&T Prepaid line, the option for the old $65/mo. plan is still on the available plans page in the online account management, not sure if it is for everyone.

    ReplyDelete
  25. Hi Dennis, The $85 ($75 after autopay) now shows 10GB for tethering.

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  26. Hi Dennis - you still have the Cricket $60 plan listed as

    "High speed data throttled to 3 mbps" but it's actually 8 Mbps.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. This post is a news item from Feburary when it was 3 Mbps.

      For current plans and pricing see the Cricket profile or the AT&T and MVNOs compared post.

      Delete
  27. Dennis - it was 8 Mbps at the time in February. The 3 Mbps only applied to the $55 plan. You can see that from the comment at February 20, 2018 at 11:06 AM.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I see what you mean, thanks. I fixed the post.

      Delete
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