A look at AT&T’s unlimited data plan

Every company used to offer unlimited data plans, but companies learned quickly they’d make a lot more money by having us pay based on how much data we used.

We are using a lot more now than we did just a couple of years ago. So is an unlimited plan the best choice?

Here’s AT&T’s new unlimited plan: It’s $100 a month for the first smartphone. Additional lines are $40 each, but the fourth phone can be added at no additional cost. A family of four will pay $180 month for the plan.

Now, there is a catch: this unlimited plan bundles with Direct TV, which AT&T acquired last summer. ­­­

You likely don’t need an unlimited data plan, but if you have teenagers, you may want to compare.

We are unquestionably using more data on our devices. Where does all that data go? Let’s take a look. An hour of streaming audio from Spotify, Apple Music or Pandora uses 1.8 GB per month. It isn’t unthinkable for someone to watch an hour of streaming video in a day. That’s 10.5 GB per month.

How much is that? It’s over 20 GB a month for that one user. A streaming family of four would probably do better on an unlimited plan. You can save on your data plan by using Wi­Fi whenever possible. Then all that video streaming doesn’t count against your plan.

The bottom line: families with teens who live their lives streaming, uploading, and chatting on their smartphones will benefit the most from an unlimited plan, but it’s still a good idea to check your usage. 

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