The mobile world is going unlimited, and that’s largely seen as a very good thing for consumers as we continue to stream videos from Netflix and connect to more and more smart devices. It’s a bit tough on carriers though. According to a report from OpenSignal, which monitors and reports on networks, the likes of AT&T and Verizon have been feeling the pain of their unlimited data plans, which were launched almost a year ago.
The report notes that unlimited plans do come with a performance hit, and in August OpenSignal’s State of Mobile Networks report mentioned that Verizon had seen an average drop of 2Mbps in LTE download speeds. AT&T’s average speed was down by 1Mbps. Now, however, it seems like things have changed a little — and for the better.
After six months of measuring decreases in LTE speeds, OpenSignal now says that both Verizon’s and AT&T’s speeds have leveled out — and Verizon’s speeds have even started going back up. Of course, that doesn’t mean they’ve fully recovered — on the contrary, the speeds were still far lower in November than they were in February.
But what about Sprint and T-Mobile? They’ve been doing great. T-Mobile‘s average speed was around 3Mbps faster than Verizon’s in November making it the fastest network out there, and while Sprint’s speed is still much lower than anyone else’s, it has been closing the gap significantly.
All this to say — now that Verizon and AT&T have stopped the plummetting of their data speeds, it will be interesting to see if that can make a comeback.
There are a few reasons why unlimited data plans affect overall data speeds. With more customers on unlimited plans, more data is being used — and greater demand on a cell tower causes the network to slow down. It’s kind of like a highway — the more cars there are, the slower the traffic goes.
What carriers need to do in the future is basically increase the bandwidth on their networks, and that’s very likely to happen given the rise of 5G networks and the fact that more and more people are getting plans with more data allowances. All the major networks are in the process of deploying their first 5G networks, with AT&T recently touting that it will be among the first to bring the new tech to consumers.
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