T-Mobile, Sprint roll out new unlimited wireless plans

Attention, buffet lovers. U.S. wireless carriers are opening the doors to all-you-can-eat data once again, with T-Mobile and Sprint on Thursday announcing new plans touting unlimited services.

T-Mobile One offers unlimited talk, text and data, just like Sprint’s Unlimited Freedom plan. But there are limits, such as in video quality, and to an extent both companies are repackaging services they have already been offering.

Still, with T-Mobile and Sprint’s moves, three of the four major U.S. wireless carriers are again officially offering all-you-can-eat plans. AT&T, the nation’s No. 2 wireless carrier, recently started offering unlimited plans to customers who also subscribe to its DirecTV or U-verse TV services. (No. 1 Verizon is the holdout.)

This trend reverses moves begun several years ago, when the wireless companies complained that customers’ increasing data use was weighing on their networks. The carriers started to move toward tiered rate plans, raising worries that they would stifle innovation. After all, as my colleague Troy Wolverton wrote then, advances such as YouTube, Netflix and Facebook wouldn’t have become so popular if their users had to worry all the time about the data they were using.

Now, those services are adding ever-data-hungry features such as live video and more.

Even as Verizon and AT&T, the nation’s top two wireless carriers, moved people away from the buffet line in the past few years, both Sprint and T-Mobile have maintained some sort of unlimited plan. Now they are competing on price — and how.

Check out this war of words between the two companies’ CEOs on Twitter today, after T-Mobile announced its new plan and Sprint followed suit:

T-Mobile’s rate is $70 for one line and $120 for two lines; Sprint’s is $60 and $100 a month. There are different rates and fees for additional lines and services.

Meanwhile, AT&T on Wednesday announced plans that lower rates for its high-data users, and got rid of its overage charges.

 

 

Photo: A T-Mobile store in San Francisco in 2008. (Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

 

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