Your Older AT&T Unlimited Data Plan Finally Includes 5G

If you bought an iPhone 12 last year and noticed you didn’t get faster 5G speeds on AT&T, you might now.
If you bought an iPhone 12 last year and noticed you didn’t get faster 5G speeds on AT&T, you might now.
Photo: Caitlin McGarry/Gizmodo

AT&T just announced that it will expand 5G connectivity to customers with older unlimited plans for free starting this month.

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Before today, if you bought a 5G phone—say, an iPhone 12—and wanted to activate it on AT&T’s 5G network, you had to upgrade to one of the carrier’s newest unlimited plans (AT&T Unlimited Starter, Unlimited Extra, and Unlimited Elite). Those plans include the ability to take advantage of AT&T’s ultra-fast millimeter wave-based 5G network, which the company indicates with a 5G+ icon, as opposed to regular 5G, which is slower than 5G+, and 5G E, which isn’t 5G at all. That’s good, because having to change your unlimited plan to a different unlimited plan just to tap into 5G makes no sense.

Here’s a list of AT&T’s legacy unlimited plans that will be getting expanded 5G service.
Here’s a list of AT&T’s legacy unlimited plans that will be getting expanded 5G service.
Graphic: AT&T

While it’s hard to say precisely when a specific customer will get the upgrade to 5G, AT&T says it will send a text to people notifying them when 5G gets added to their plan. That said, it’s important to remember that people will already need to have a 5G-capable device and be located within in area covered by AT&T’s 5G network.

Following the addition of 5G to older unlimited consumer plans, AT&T will also expand 5G support to older unlimited business plans starting in April.

While AT&T adding 5G support to older plans might seem like a small favor to folks on older plans, the move almost seems like a shot at Verizon, who earlier this week announced that it will exclude customers on its less expensive metered and unlimited plans from accessing its mmWave 5G or 5G based on Verizon’s newly purchased C-band spectrum.

Currently, it’s unclear whether AT&T will throttle 5G data after a certain point on those older unlimited plans, as they originally did not include pricing for 5G. Gizmodo has reached out to AT&T for clarification, and we will update the story if we hear back.

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Senior reporter at Gizmodo, formerly Tom's Guide and Laptop Mag. Was an archery instructor and a penguin trainer before that.

DISCUSSION

If they want to charge more for 5g access they should. The spectrum is not free to purchase at auction. The equipment and tower upgrades are not free. Workers that install and maintain the equipment is not free.