For a while, unlimited data plans at wireless carriers were headed the way of the dodo. The two largest carriers, AT&T
Ma Bell axed them back in 2010, although some users are still grandfathered in, while Big Red followed suit in 2011. Just this year, Verizon also went the extra step and killed the option for existing grandfathered subscribers as it not-so-gently pushes everyone toward its pricey Share Everything plans, which include a shared data bucket and unlimited voice and text.
Smaller rival Sprint Nextel
T-Mobile has also kept "unlimited" data plans alive, but with a catch that after a certain threshold the carrier begins to throttle, or limit, data speeds to unbearable levels. Well, the company has just announced that it will begin offering an unlimited data plan with no throttling next month.
The key thing to point out is that both Sprint and T-Mobile, the two current proponents among the four largest carriers, are far behind in their 4G LTE networks, so the real question is whether or not subscribers would rather have limited 4G LTE or unlimited 3G/4G HSPA+. Seems like the sweet spot of unlimited 4G LTE is just out of reach, unless...
At least there's an indication that carriers aren't giving up entirely on unlimited data, or that it can at least be perceived as a value proposition from the smaller players while the two top dogs hope to use other advantages in size instead. Unlimited data ain't dead quite yet.
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Fool contributor Evan Niu owns shares of AT&T and Verizon Communications, but he holds no other position in any company mentioned. Click here to see his holdings and a short bio. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days.