Last month, T-Mobile announced their One "unlimited" plans. Truly unlimited data, so the claim was made. We signed up and put it through the paces. Is it really unlimited?
We recently moved our home and office further to the outskirts of Austin, Tx; true hill country area, and internet was going to be a hurdle. The options are limited and T-Mobile seemed to be the best option, especially with it's new One+ plan that allows users unlimited data and unlimited 4g LTE tethering for an additional $25/m. Speed tests here vary, mostly depending on where you are in the house. We get a range between 5-17 megabit (which, btw, is good enough for VUDU's 1080p HDX video streaming).
It didn't take long for us to burn through data. As soon as I turned on my Xbox One, it immediately updated everything without my knowledge. BOOM... 15 gigs used. Oops. I kept BingeOn active the whole time, but watched movies in 1080p (VUDU), and some YouTube videos in HD. We stream music daily through Pandora and Spotify as well as watched movies and TV series on Netflix and Amazon Instant Video. Finally, we rely on internet for work - that includes Skype calls and file transfers etc.
Our plan is the One+ plan (for business). The fine print reads that if you hit 26 gb, you will be "deprioritized" when there is network congestion on towers. Thankfully, we live far enough out that we don't seem to experience congestion. That's good, because not only did I hit 26 gb on my phone (I exceeded it by a few gigs) we also hit 70 gigs of usage via hot spot, which wasn't hard to do. So what was the result? Did we get throttled or deprioritized?
In short: No. I have been throttled before on a previous plan and it's painfully obvious when it happens. I'm not sure why they call it throttling because it really is truly unusable. Email clients think you don't have internet and error out and web pages just don't load. Technically throttling and deprioritizing are two different things, but we didn't experience either. We are still able to watch movies in 1080p and everything else mentioned above.
Wrap Up and Verdict
I actually switched to T-Mobile (again) after about 11 years with AT&T, when it was still Cingular. When I initially had T-Mobile (2004-ish), they had poor service, poor customer service, and a non-competitive plan. Now? They are pushing the boundaries in wireless internet data while others are fighting against it. It made me switch. They aren't perfect though. I understand that until their network can handle it, they have to have ways of optimizing the network for power users (like us). But it's a step in the right direction and a REALLY good alternative for those in rural areas that might just get seemingly unlimited data when options are slim, granted you can get LTE where you are. For us, it's meeting our needs and is living up to the marketing.
Keep it up T-Mobile. Oh, and give us VUDU and Dominos pizza back in T-Mobile Tuesdays, because right now it's pretty fucking lame.