AT&T’s New Unlimited Data Plans

March 16th, 2016

The conditions of AT&T’s new unlimited data plan, which its ads boast that AT&T wireless customers “get” when they have DirecTV, are so numerous that the fine print on one store’s sign literally runs off the page. But among those fine-print terms is the condition that the carrier’s unlimited data plan costs money. It’s not, in other words, a freebie for signing up for DirecTV, which AT&T acquired last July.

AT&T Get Unlimited Data

The AT&T store sign in which the fine print is cut off. (Click to enlarge.)

But a TINA.org reader says the language — “Get Unlimited Data when you have AT&T wireless and DIRECTV” — suggests that an unlimited data plan does come free of charge with a DirecTV subscription. In fact, he said, that’s what enticed him to order DirecTV in the first place.

“This advertising made me believe that as a bonus for signing a two-year contract with DirecTV, they would add unlimited data,” the reader said in an email to TINA.org. “The way it is worded, it sounds like there will be no additional charge.”

But, he said, AT&T later informed him that the plan would cost an additional $180 per month on top of what he’ll have to pay for DirecTV, which, for its least expensive package, starts at $19.99 per month and then increases to $51.99 per month in the mandatory second year of the contract. (ICYMI: Before the AT&T merger, the FTC sued DirecTV for allegedly misleading consumers about the costs of its satellite television service.)

The fine print in the store sign is less than clear about the actual cost of the unlimited data plan, stating in part that, “Fees, monthly & other charges apply.”

RELATED: What mobile carriers are really saying in their ads

AT&T stopped offering unlimited data plans to new customers in 2010 when it transitioned to “tiered” plans that carry a specific data amount. Since then, the carrier has faced growing scrutiny over claims that it throttles, which means it intentionally slows down data speeds, when a consumer has approached or exceeded usage limits. Last year, the FCC said it was fining AT&T a record $100 million for misleading consumers about its unlimited data plans.

Now, the store sign discloses that, “After 22GB of usage, AT&T may slow data speeds.” A ton of usage, sure, but doesn’t that make this new unlimited data plan … limited?

Find more of our coverage on smartphones here.

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