T-Mobile’s cheap new unlimited data plan is always throttled

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T-Mobile calls itself the Un-carrier, and tries to undercut the prices of its competition. Its new Essentials plan is one example.
Photo: T-Mobile

T-Mobile just added a third unlimited data plan for your iPhone or Android. This one costs less than the others, but also offers less. And it comes wit a big caveat: it’s always subject to slowdowns.

No changes are being made to the earlier T-Mobile One and One Plus plans.

The “Un-carrier” says the T-Mobile Essentials plan is for those who “just want the basics.” It offers unlimited talk, text and smartphone data. Unlike this wireless device provider’s other unlimited plans, a Netflix subscription is not included.

And then there’s throttling. Internet traffic from any device on the Essentials plan is always given low priority. “During times and places with heavy network demand, Essentials customers may notice slower speeds than other customers,” T-Mobile warned in a statement. And “Customers using>50GB/mo. may notice further reduced speeds.” 

Video is always limited to 480p, and there is no hotspot service.

T-Mobile Essentials vs. other plans

The bare-bones T-Mobile Essentials plan is $60 a month. The carrier’s other plans cost more, but have more features. Both T-Mobile One at $70 a month and One Plus at $80 a month aren’t subject to slowdowns until after 50 GB of data.

The cheaper plan limits video to 480p  and hotspot connections are always 3G. For $10 more, users get 1080p video and 10 GB of hotspot data before dropping to 3G.  As mentioned. Netflix is included with both plans.

T-Mobile Essentials will be available starting August 10. The other options debuted many months ago.

This is hardly the only carrier tinkering with its unlimited data plans. In a fact, all of them have made changes in the last month or so. Verizon also added a new data plan, AT&T added streaming video service, and Sprint raised prices or cut services.