If you think the major carriers offer pretty much the same unlimited data plan, you’re wrong.
Yes, AT&T, Verizon, Sprint, and T-Mobile all offer lots of data, strong video quality and 10GB of mobile hotspots -- but it turns out not all mobile hotspots are created equal. In fact, some are way more equal than others.
Whilst comparing the major carriers' unlimited plans, we discovered this major hotspot benefit: On T-Mobile's One Plus Unlimited data plan, you can stream your favorite Netflix shows from your cellphone to your laptop or tablets (up to 8 devices) without it costing you anything in data.
That's right, zero data, zilch GBs, nada.
Why does this hotspot feature matter?
Think pleasant-er family roadtrips, more tolerable business flight lay-overs. With this hotspot feature, not only is it more likely that you and yours can stream happily anywhere you happen to be. Say bye bye to slow public WiF and hello to streaming 4G LTE network speeds on trains, cars and at hotels.
Tired of squinting at the small picture on your phone? Not a worry, tether your laptop to your phone and you’ve got big screen action.
In the car with the kids on a long roadtrip? Tether those kids’ phones and tablets and let Phineas and Ferb take the edge off — every generation has its “mother’s little helper.”
And since your video streaming isn’t eating up your hotspot allowance, you’ve got one less thing to worry about.
How does this feature work?
On T-Mobile's One Plus plan, via its Binge On feature, you can use your phone as a mobile hotspot and stream topnotch video content (Netflix, Hulu, HBO and other participating Binge On services) to up to eight devices without it counting against your 10GB of mobile hotspot allowance.
Once Binge On is enabled, the feature will stream video in standard definition which, while not high definition, still delivers a solid picture quality. (The verdict is still out whether the difference is even discernible on our smaller smartphone screens.)
It's good to note that T-Mobile prioritizes on-device data over hotspot data and at times of high network traffic may result in slower tethering speeds. However, tethering speeds should increase once the network congestion has cleared.
Do the other carriers' Unlimited data plans offer this?
No. Sprint, Verizon, AT&T do include 10GB of mobile hotspot data each month, but the big difference is that all the data your tethered devices consume — whether by streaming Netflix or web browsing — will count towards the mobile hotspot allotment. And if you plan to do any major binge watching on your tethered devices, you'll easily burn through those 10GBs and then be dropped down to 2G tethering speeds if you're with AT&T or Sprint or 3G if you're with Verizon.
Compare Carriers to Find the Perfect Cell Phone Plan
T-Mobile is one of the "Big Four" cell phone carriers in the United States, a key player in the wireless market. Founded in 1994, T-Mobile USA is helmed by outspoken CEO John Legere.
- Network: T-Mobile's 4G LTE network runs on LTE bands 4 and 12. These bands use the frequencies 1900, 1700 def and 700a. For phones using 2G or 3G network technology, the T-Mobile network will primarily use the 1900 MHz frequency.
- Coverage: At last check, T-Mobile ranked #3 in overall coverage in the U.S. That may change, though, as the company quickly buys up spectrum in previously-uncovered areas.
- Where to Buy: T-Mobile products can be purchased online or at one of the company's over 3,500 U.S. stores.
- Bring Your Own Phone to T-Mobile: Customers can bring along their unlocked, GSM-compatible phones for service on T-Mobile. Just make sure that the device supports T-Mobile's LTE bands and 3G frequencies; you can check here.
- Tethering: T-Mobile's unlimited ONE plan includes unlimited hotspot data at up to 3G speeds. Customers can add ONE Plus to get unlimited Smartphone Mobile HotSpot data at up to 4G LTE speeds.
- Taxes & Fees: One of the biggest perks of T-Mobile is that all taxes and fees are included in the price of their plans.
Fact: T-Mobile's unlimited plans have been incredibly popular, and arguably moved the entire wireless industry in the direction of all-you-can-use talk, text and data plans. Learn more about T-Mobile via our carrier review.