Recently, there has been much confusion as to who is offering what. Using the term "Unlimited" is one thing, offering Unlimited 4G Data service is another. All of these companies paint their plans as the same but they are far from it. Now that Sprint is getting purchased by T-Mobile, that will leave 3 major carriers, AT&T, T-Mobile, and Verizon, There are also some smaller regional carriers and many, many Mobile Virtual Network Operators (MVNO) out there. MVNOs resell and bill for service they get from the major carriers. They come and go as they don't seem to have the long term longevity of the major carriers. As each is competing directly with them, don't expect much customer service. Even though these MVNOs may use a great network like T-Mobile or Verizon, it's not the same as going directly with the carrier, regardless of how big they are. After all Disney and ESPN both attempted and failed at the MVNO game. The reality is customer service from most carriers these days is exceptional.
The big problems with MVNOs is they don't own or operate their own networks. If you need help, calling the carrier directly is not an option. They will give you the phone number to the reseller and that is it. If the resellers support is no good, hanging up and calling back will likely give you the same person. Spectrum is the latest MVNO that jumped into the Cellular business. Since all the wireless carriers like to start their individual plans at the $70 mark, these guys came out with a $45 per line deal. For single line users, that's not a bad deal but if you are a large data user like me, it sucks. Not because of the wireless network, that's Verizon's. It's the fact that Spectrum will throttle your speeds down at 20GB. That's less than all the major carriers and not even half of the 50GB of 4G LTE T-Mobile gives their customers. Don't expect free global data and texting and many other features offered for FREE that the carriers offer their direct customers. Spectrum also utilizes wifi hotspots which may or may not be as secure as using encrypted cellular services.
Today, both T-Mobile and Verizon offer three types of Unlimited plans. Typically, the leader plans offer 480p resolution whereas the higher plans go to 720p or 1080p. This not important on a 4" screen but for those who would use a micro HDMI to HDMI cable to watch Netflix from their Smartphone to a 65" monitor, it's huge. The higher the resolution the better a large screens image will be.
Since I am often asked what plan I'm on personally, here it is...
Assuming your also a geezer like me, T-Mobile's 55+ Senior plan is their best kept secret, and by far, the best deal out there. It offers one Unlimited line for $50 which is fair but two Unlimited lines for $60 which is stellar.
Initially, they only allowed for two lines but I believe they will now allow a third line now for $35.
Anyone in the military can usually get a military discount, usually about 15% off, if you don't ask, you won't get.
Joel Saltzman has over twenty years of wireless industry experience. He is currently CEO and Chief Wireless Analyst for Dr Wireless.