You’ve probably heard of “Unlimited Data” before. Most of us who have unlimited data plans take them for granted and use them to surf the web, stream movies, TV shows, and Youtube videos, play video games, use mapping services, and more.
But what exactly is unlimited data? Read on to find out.
Why Should I Care About Unlimited Data?
Most cell phone carriers offer unlimited data plans. Understanding what these are is key to seeing if an unlimited data plan is right for you.
There are millions of unique cell phone plans out there. It might seem like finding the best one is nearly impossible. We’re here to help.
Navi is dedicated to making the carrier search easy and hassle-free. Visit our website for more information on all things cellular, and check out our find a phone and find a phone plan functions to find the device and carrier of your dreams.
What Is Mobile Data?
Mobile Data is the information sent and received by your smart device using a cellular connection. Mobile data is used whenever you connect to the internet without using Wi-Fi.
What Are the Different Types of Unlimited Data?
There are three different types of Unlimited data:
1. Premium Data
Premium data, also called high-speed data, gives you the best 4G LTE or 5G speeds your phone carrier can deliver in your area. This is the best possible coverage, and you will not have to worry about speeds slowing or dropping for any reason but a poor signal connection.
2. Deprioritized Data
Deprioritized Data, also known as basic data, gives you 4G and 5G LTE network speeds, just like Premium Data. There is one key difference, though: if the network gets too busy, the carrier will slow your data speeds for a temporary period of time until the network clears up a bit. Don’t worry too much, though. Most people do not notice this shift in speed.
3. 3G Data
3G Data, also known as 600 kbps data, only has access to 3G network speeds, which are noticeably slower than 4G LTE and 5G Speeds.
How Did Unlimited Data Become the Norm?
Before unlimited data plans were introduced, users were given a set amount of data and charged overages whenever they used more than their data allotment. As phones developed more use cases, and people were using cellular data more and more things, companies started offering plans with unlimited data to entice customers.
The History of Phone Data
Here is a timeline of important cellular data events:
1946: First ever wireless phone system is developed inside a car by Bell Labs, an American company. This car phone weighed more than 80 pounds!
1973: Motorola shows off the first cell phone prototype. Martin Cooper, a key engineer at Motorola, actually called a Bell Labs employee, an arch nemesis, with the first-ever wireless phone call!
1983: Motorola begins selling the DynaTAC 800X cell phone for $4000. This phone was almost a foot long and was more than two pounds. Still, it sold out! It used Bell Labs’ Advanced Mobile Phone System (AMPS), a first-generation cellular network. This means it was 1G. This 1G network was analog and prone to signal noise and static interference. It only supported phone calls- meaning texting was not a thing yet -though it could remember 30 contacts.
1987: Nokia releases the Mobira Cityman 900. At more than one and a half pounds, this phone was lighter than the DynaTAC.
1988: Samsung releases the SH-100, its first cell phone.
1991: The Global System for Mobile Communications (GSM) was developed. This was a second generation, or 2G, network, and the first fully digital one. It also had encryption, protecting users’ calls from being listened in on. 2G helped lead the way to text messaging and internet access on cell phones. Users could also now swap SIM cards if they wanted to switch between carriers.
1994: The Nokia 2010 is released, the first phone that could send a text message. It had a numeric keypad with letter mappings, which became an industry standard.
1998: 3G, or third-generation, cellular data, is released. With increased data speeds, customers could use their phones for more data-intensive use cases, like video calls and accessing the internet. 3G speeds go up to 3.1 megabits per second (MBPs).
1999: The first Blackberry, the Blackberry 850, is sold. It had a 32-bit Intel processor, email software that was encrypted and a horizontal keyboard. Blackberry sold extremely well and helped popularize the smartphone.
2007: The Apple iPhone is released. This was the first phone to fully use a touch interface and work as a phone, iPod, and internet communications device all at once. The iPhone helped make the modern smartphone, as it is known today, widely popular.
2008: 4G, or fourth generation connectivity, is introduced. 4G LTE (or Fourth Generation Long Term Evolution) had faster transfer speeds, at least 5 to ten times faster, than 3G. Also, connection quality was better. 4G speeds reach from 35-60 Mbps.
2012: The iPhone 5 is released, the first iPhone with 4G LTE.
2018: The first 5G, or fifth generation, cellular network is introduced by Verizon. 5G speeds can run from 100-200Mbps.
What Are the Big Three Unlimited Data Plans?
Usually, the more premium data a carrier’s plan offers, the more extensive the plan. Read on for some examples of unlimited data plans, and be sure to use our plan widget below to compare the best unlimited plan options for you in seconds.
AT&T Unlimited Plans
- Unlimited Starter
- Unlimited Extra
- Unlimited Premium
To learn more about these plans and pricing options, use our complete guide to AT&T Unlimited Plans. Navi resources can help you choose the right plan no matter the carrier.
Verizon Unlimited Plans
- Verizon Unlimited Welcome
- Verizon Unlimited Welcome (with Feature Bundles)
- Verizon Unlimited Plus
- Verizon Unlimited Plus (with Feature Bundles)
To learn more about these plans and pricing options, use our complete guide to Verizon Unlimited Plans.
T-Mobile’s unlimited plans are all on T-Mobile’s 5G network, with no annual service contract required.
- Go5G Plus
- Essentials Savings
To learn more about these plans and pricing options, use our complete guide to T-Mobile Unlimited Plans.
Other Carriers’ Unlimited Data Plans
There are additional options for those looking outside of the big three.
Xfinity Mobile Unlimited Data Plans
Xfinity Mobile has three unlimited plan options for customers.
- Unlimited Intro
- Unlimited Plus
- Unlimited Premium
Visit our complete guide on Xfinity Unlimited Plans to learn more about these plans and options.
UScellular Unlimited Data Plans
UScellular has three unlimited plan options for customers.
- Everyday Unlimited
- Even Better Unlimited
- Basic Unlimited
To learn more about these plans and pricing options, use our complete guide to UScellular Unlimited Plans.
Spectrum Mobile Unlimited Data Plans
Spectrum Mobile currently offers two unlimited data plans for their customers.
- Unlimited Plus
Learn more about these plans with our complete guide to Spectrum Mobile unlimited plans.
What Unlimited Data Plan Is Right for Me?
This depends on what you are looking for. If you’re seeking perks, Verizon might be your best bet. If you’re on a budget, consider Spectrum Mobile — their $29.99 unlimited plan is hard to beat.
As you now know, there is a wide variety of unlimited data plans. It could seem hard to find the right plan for you. In fact, there are millions of unique cellular plans. Luckily, Navi is here to help.
Navi’s find a phone plan tool will find the right unlimited data plan for you. You can also use our find a phone feature to choose the right smartphone to combine with your plan. Use our website to stay informed on everything cellular.