It wasn’t all that long ago that T-Mobile launched its One plan, an unlimited $70 data plan unlimited data, talk, and text. And it wasn’t long after that America’s third-largest carrier added a premium tier that did away with a few of the original’s constraints: In exchange for a few extra dollars a month, subscribers could net high-definition video streaming and super-fast unlimited tethering. Now, in the spirit of generosity, T-Mobile’s making it cheaper to upgrade.
Starting this week, T-Mobile One subscribers will have the option of themselves faster tethering and HD video for $15 more a month — half price. Video on streaming services like YouTube, Netflix, and Hulu get a bump in resolution from standard definition (480p) to high definition (1080p), and tethering speeds jump from 3G (512Kbps) to 4G LTE.
And for subscribers who frequent international shores, there’s a new One upgrade: One Plus International. Forking over an extra $20 monthly grants unlimited calling from the U.S. to landlines in more than 70 countries, mobile numbers in more than 30 countries, and discounted calling to 200 countries.
Those bonuses compliment the One plan’s existing benefits, of course. One subscribers get free data roaming in more than 140 countries and destinations worldwide, unlimited Gogo in-flight Wi-Fi, voicemail-to-text translation, and caller ID.
T-Mobile’s holiday One promotion follows the debut of Sprint’s Unlimited Freedom plan. The carrier’s $60 a month includes unlimited data, standard-definition streaming video, tethering at 2G speeds, and throttled music streaming (500Kbps) and multiplayer gaming (2Mbps). An upcharge tier, $80 Unlimited Freedom Premium, upgrades online clip quality to HD 1080p and audio and gaming speeds to 1.2Mbps and 8Mbps, respectively.
AT&T offers an unlimited plan, but only to subscribers of its DirecTV and U-Verse internet plans. It starts at $150 a month.
T-Mobile’s One plan hasn’t escaped controversy. The fine print implies that users who exceed 26GB of data a month — roughly 3 percent of customers, the carrier says — are subject to throttling. And the Electronic Frontier Foundation has accused T-Mobile of going against the Federal Communication Commission’s Open Internet Order. “From what we’ve read thus far, it seems like T-Mobile’s new plan to charge its customers extra to not throttle video runs directly afoul of the principle of net neutrality,” said EFF senior staff technologist.
A spokesperson for the FCC told the Daily Dot that “the Commission’s informal policy review is ongoing,” and that it would “keep an eye on new developments.”
The standard-definition cap on video is a carryover from T-Mobile’s Binge On. The benefit, introduced last year as part of the carrier’s ongoing “Un-carrier” branding, let users watch 480p video content from select platforms like Netflix, Hulu, and YouTube without it counting against their data allotment. And it’s similar in principle to T-Mobile’s Music Freedom plan, a so-called zero-rated program that let subscriber stream music from a curated list of partner services.
Earlier this year, the EFF suggested that T-Mobile was limiting subscribers’ bandwidth to 1.5Mbps while they viewed video.