AT&T will let its mobile customers sign up for unlimited wireless data plans again, bringing back an option that the wireless carrier started phasing out in 2010. But there’s a catch: It’s only available to people who also subscribe to AT&T’s DirecTV or U-Verse TV packages.
The announcement this morning capitalizes on the company’s $48.5 billion acquisition of DirecTV last year. It’s designed in part for people who want to stream video without worrying about data limits — a challenge that AT&T rival T-Mobile has been tackling in a different way, sparking criticism about its approach.
AT&T’s new unlimited wireless plans will cost $100/month for the first smartphone, with two additional lines costing $40/month each, and a fourth smartphone added at no extra charge, which means a family of four will be able to get unlimited data for $180/month.
But as usual, AT&T’s definition of “unlimited” may be different than yours. Here’s the fine print on that four-line scenario: “$180: Price after $40 credit for 4th smartphone line. Credit starts in 2 bills. Pay $220/ month until credit starts. After 22GB of data usage on a line in a bill cycle, for the remainder of the bill cycle AT&T may slow data speeds on that line during periods of network congestion. Additional data and other restrictions apply.”
Both new and existing Direct TV and U-Verse subscribers will be eligible for the unlimited AT&T plans, according to the announcement. The cost of the TV packages are still separate, but AT&T notes,”The new AT&T Unlimited Plan is the first of many integrated video and mobility offers the company plans to announce in 2016. Also, AT&T plans to launch a wide-range of new video entertainment options later this year.”