Straight Talk, Net10 clarify “unlimited” plans: 2.5 GB of high-speed data

Straight Talk and Net10 are pre-paid wireless providers that offer relatively inexpensive talk, text, and data plans in the United States. Bring an AT&T or T-Mobile compatible phone to one of these carriers, and you can get service for as little as $45 per month (or even less if you pay for 3 months or more in advance).

Up until recently, both services said they offered “unlimited” talk, text, and data. But users noticed that their internet speeds became very slow after hitting an unspecified limit. Now the company that owns Straight Talk and Net10 is clarifying exactly what “unlimited” means.

Customers get up to 2.5 GB of high-speed data. After that, service will be throttled down to 2G speeds until the end of the billing period.

Straight Talk

That’s actually a pretty good deal. Most US wireless carriers charge significantly more for that much data, and technically the plans are still unlimited. It’s just the high-speed data that capped at 2.5GB per month.

The policy change (or clarification) comes shortly after Straight Talk started selling SIM cards that let customers access AT&T’s 4G LTE network for the same price as the older HSPA SIM cards.

It also comes after a class action suit was filed against Straight Talk and Net10’s parent company Tracfone this summer, alleging that the company’s claims that it was offering unlimited data were false, since it was throttling users’ connection speeds after a certain, unspecified cap had been met.

I’ve been a Straight Talk customer for a little over a year, and I’ve been pretty satisfied with the service. You may not be able to walk into a store for customer support, and you’ll have to pay full price for your phone up-front. But over time this type of service can save a lot of money, and since the carriers operate on AT&T and T-Mobile’s network, coverage and performance is pretty good throughout the country.

Update: Wondering what you can do with 2.5GB of data? Straight Talk says that’s enough to view about 2,100 web pages, stream music from Pandora for 88 hours (or more than two full work-weeks), browse Facebook for 128 hours, or check about 35,000 emails. Meanwhile, the company advises staying away from YouTube, Hulu, netflix, and other video streaming and download services while you’re on 3G or 4G, since online video apps are “data vampires.”

straight talk data

thanks Eric Y!

  • Mike

    Hopefully users’ accounts won’t randomly get terminated now.

    • Andrew Smithey

      Agreed

  • George

    I was a T-Mobile USB dongle customer on their HSPA network. The throttling
    was so bad, when I went beyond the bandwidth cap, as to render any Internet

    activity unusable. Furthermore, DNS queries took forever, so that browsers would
    time out after you typed in the URL. So I would consider anyone’s throttled

    service (except for Sprint, which never throttled me), as worthless.

  • MrJazz

    But doesn’t the fine print still still specifically forbid “streaming and tethering?”
    No matter – having dealt with their customer service just twice was enough to make me jump ship. If the next Nexus phone does in fact offer LTE, I’m moving over to to AIO.

    • Ben

      Yes it did. It seems this is good news on several fronts. 1. We know what the limit is now. 2. They’ve mentioned Pandora, so that’s not of limits. 3. While they discourage video streaming, it’s not forbidden.

      Overall, this change seems to have addressed a lot of problems that people had. Personally I’m very happy about all of this. Guess all the lawsuits and complaints paid off.

      • Dutch29

        I was wondering about streaming Pandora? I am pretty sure that it is allowed on Straight Talk now. Can I do it now, without worry? I just don’t want to get throttled as I did several months ago for streaming video in which I was totally in the wrong for doing. I would love to be able to stream Pandora without worry. That’s about the only thing that was missing for me with Straight Talk before. I think it is the best deal going if you’re realistic on what you’re smart phone is to be used for. No one should expect to get over 2GB a month for $45 a month.

    • izick

      There are no longer any restrictions on steaming music or video.

      Tethering is prohibited on both networks Aio Wireless and Straight Talk Wireless.

      If you want legal tethering, it is now available on T-Mobile Prepaid for free.

  • Cal Rankin

    This is a nice improvement, since they have clarified the specific data limit. $45 and $50 is a nice deal for 2.5 GB of data

    • Brian Hunt

      not really

      • Cal Rankin

        why not? For that price on T-Mobile, I would be paying $60 for that on T-Mobile, and don’t get me started about the cost of that on Verizon or AT&T. That could easily top $100 with a contract.
        For $45/month on AT&T’s new plans, I only get 300 MB of data. Here I can get AT&T’s network with 2.5 GB of data, including LTE.

      • Thor

        This is why… While it might seem like a great deal, u don’t realize that other countries don’t do this crap. U pay one rate for everything with nothing throttled and it’s at a low price like 45$. Money hungry power companies do is off because they can. So, no it’s not a great deal. We are still grabbing out ankle’s and taking it where the sun don’t shine!

      • Cal Rankin

        Unfortunately, Americans love the word “FREE” and abhor small-print, so the masses are easily manipulated into picking up a “free” phone and buying into the stupid conditions that apply.

      • Grievance

        I have to disagree with you free isn’t the issue here what Thor says is correct they shouldn’t be limiting the data like they do for 45$ its not a good deal they make a price margin profit of 200-300% depending on the area code and zoning laws. As a result what you are paying for is not for the actual cost of the data (i know profit) but you are paying for or could pay for with that cost at say 120% about 10-15 giga bytes of data. I don’t enjoy how they feed off they values but to each their own not trying to be a insensitive douche about it just telling you the truth.

  • white tiger

    Theres no way its truly unlimited after 2.5GB of data. Unless the throttled speeds are so slow they figure it will hinder how much a person actually uses it. There is no way the carriers will allow a prepaid company that leases their towers to not only undercut them in price, but also speeds and how much data can be used if they themselves do not offer it. I’m curious what the actual shut off point is. As you know there is one.

  • Mstar

    It is not really unlimited when they cripple the speeds down to a pretty much unusable level. Speeds on ATT’s version were great and after the 2.5 GB dropped to 7kB down and about 16 kB up. Even if not tethering this is so highly restrictive it is NOT REALLY UNLIMITED. That is, if you really can not use the data available then they should jsut call it a 2.5 GB plan.

    • http://dylanmtaylor.com/ Dylan Taylor

      It’s crippled to the point of not being usable at all, it takes several minutes to load text pages with a few images

  • Brian Hunt

    love how only the cell co’s can use the term unlimited with such wild euphemism