It often feels like wireless providers don’t really understand the definition of “unlimited,” but today, in a somewhat surprising move, AT&T announced that its top-tier Unlimited Elite plan is getting truly unlimited data that won’t get throttled regardless of how much you use.
The addition of truly uncapped data for AT&T’s Unlimited Elite plan is set to arrive this week as a no-cost upgrade for both new and existing subscribers, with the plan’s cost staying the same at $85 per month for a single line, or as low as $45 per month for a plan with five Unlimited Elite lines. The uncapped data will apply to both 4G LTE and 5G data, with AT&T saying it will send a text to any existing customers when the free upgrade gets applied to their plan.
Previously, AT&T’s Unlimited Elite plan featured a soft cap of 100GB of data per month, after which a user’s data speed was potentially subject to being throttled depending on their usage and location. But starting this week, AT&T has confirmed with Gizmodo, the Unlimited Elite plan will offer truly unlimited data with no hard caps or throttling, which is something AT&T subscribers haven’t seen since the old (and no longer available) Unlimited plan that came bundled with early iPhones a decade ago.
That said, there is one small hitch when it comes to the Unlimited Elite plan’s uncapped data: While data going to and from your phone is unlimited, mobile hotspot data on the Unlimited Elite plan remains capped, though AT&T is raising that cap from 30GB to 40GB. The last major change is, AT&T’s Unlimited Elite plan will now support full 4K video streaming instead of being limited to lower-res HD resolutions. Meanwhile, other perks included with the Unlimited Elite plan like a free subscription to HBO Max and a free six-month trial for Google Stadia Pro are staying the same.
While it’s unclear if the upgrade to the Unlimited Elite plan is AT&T’s way of getting ahead of President Biden’s recent executive order meant in part to help increase broadband speeds while lowering prices, it’s hard to be upset about a free upgrade to truly unlimited data. It’s important to note, though, that AT&T stopped short of adding uncapped data to all of its plans.
Elsewhere, in a separate announcement, AT&T is also updating its international coverage with the new International Day Pass, which costs $10 a day (or $5 for each additional line) and gives you unlimited calls, texts, and data for 24 hours. Unlike the Unlimited Elite plan, however, it seems data from the International Day Pass is potentially subject to throttling. However, the real benefit of International Day Pass is that AT&T says it will only charge for a max of 10 days of the International Day Pass in one billing cycle. This means if you’re on a longer trip, you can theoretically get up to 30 days of international calls, texts, and data for $100, total.
Regardless, with so many wireless plans still potentially subject to throttling, the arrival of a truly uncapped data plans is something to celebrate, even if it’s restricted to AT&T’s most expensive plan and that uncapped data doesn’t apply to mobile hotspot usage.
Update: 7/12 at 4:00 p.m. ET: AT&T claims that due to the nature of international plans, the International Day Pass should have the same data limits as your domestic plan when possible, which includes unlimited data for customers on AT&T’s Unlimited Elite plan. However, because not all countries have the same network capabilities, your service may vary depending on your location.