Unlimited Wireless Plans

Unlimited wireless is the king of all prepaid wireless plans!  Some small wireless carriers started launching unlimited monthly services going back to 2006.  For example, MetroPCS and Cricket Communications (under parent company Leap Wireless at the time) were regional carriers that focused solely on providing unlimited prepaid wireless plans.  They were, however, regional (i.e. not nationwide) and therefore only a limited population were exposed toUnlimited No Contract Wireless these types of plans in any meaningful way.

The rest of the nationwide prepaid wireless carriers just cruised along with their Pay As You Go, Daily Plans, and Monthly Plans.  In fact, these "other" carriers were cruising along with their blinders on.  What I mean by that is that while they knew about unlimited carriers like MetroPCS and Cricket, they didn't see them as a real threat.  Some of these other carriers at the time included the likes of Virgin Mobile, TracFone, Boost Mobile, and Net10.  By the time late 2007 rolled around, these larger carriers were literally getting killed, and referred to those providing unlimited wireless service as "disruptive carriers."  Either their naivety or ego stopped even the most senior executives from seeing that the unlimited model was not only appealing, but also financially sustainable.

In roughly 2008, Boost Mobile got on the unlimited band wagon (in an attempt to save their dying business!), and it could be argued that they brought flat rate unlimited prepaid wireless to the masses.  The next number of years entailed fierce competition with heavy national expansion by the originals (MetroPCS and Cricket).  Needless to say that prepaid heated up in a big way, and really began to get mainstream attention, which was important for it to move away from being seen as only for the credit challenged.  The initial spirit of these unlimited plans was to offer unlimited voice service for a fixed monthly price.  Of course, as the market heated up, unlimited voice expanded into unlimited text messaging, then unlimited Web.

Ironically, despite Boost's role in popularizing unlimited plans, fast forward to current day, and they're not doing well at all competing in this now massive market.  Cricket, on the other hand, is thriving after its acquisition by AT&T, and MetroPCS is doing well under T-Mobile.

The best plans still included all of the basic features as unlimited, however, in an attempt to remain profitable, as well as to offer a lower entry point, prepaid wireless carriers also started offering unlimited voice only plans with the other features offered in familiar monthly allocations, add-on bundles, or lower priced monthly plans that included only unlimited voice.  Here are some common features of these plans to look out for as you compare unlimited:
  • Are there any other services that are also unlimited?  Not all plans include everything anymore!  And don't be fooled by plans stating "unlimited data".  There's always a fixed amount of high speed data, with unlimited "super slow speed" data thereafter.
  • If you miss your monthly payment, what are the rules around getting reactivated?  Consider additional fees, losing your service or phone number, etc.
  • Are there fees for changing plans?
  • How much does it cost to add money to your account?  Some unlimited wireless plans still charge you convenience/service fees to add money/make a payment, so definitely compare these fees to the monthly charge.  Sometimes one plan will seem cheaper than another, however, their payment fee may be much larger.  So be sure to look at these two costs together when comparing the total monthly cost of each plan.  Generally speaking, I recommend avoiding companies that charge fees to topup.  Those that do, typically offer fee free channels like credits cards or Autopay.  Lastly, some are telecom tax inclusive, while others aren't, so understanding the true monthly cost is super critical.
Unlimited Wireless Plans

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