Both AT&T and Verizon introduced new data plans not long ago, and we are comparing their unlimited options - AT&T's Starter, Extra and Elite, against Verizon's Above, Go and Beyond Unlimited, T-Mobile's One and One Plus, as well as Sprint's Unlimited Freedom, which is the cheapest of the bunch.
T-Mobile increased its prices, Verizon limited its "unlimited" option a bit, and AT&T enhanced the Plus and Choice plans to a level where Choice customers can be "deprioritized" at any time for paying a bit less, but don't have a blanket 3Mbps restriction anymore, plus the same goes for Verizon's cheaper option, too.There's been a lot of moving and shaking since US carriers went all unlimited.
Verizon - coverage comes at a price
America's largest carrier will grant you at least a bar or two from the cornfields of Illinois, to sweet home Alabama, but that superior network of towers will cost ya - Verizon's unlimited plans are costly, both for a single line ($90 w/AutoPay), and for the most popular 4-line family endeavor. You can, however, mix and match plan types on each line, even within the same family, which is pretty unique as far as carrier offers go.
AT&T strikes the balance
The second-largest US carrier also has very expansive coverage outside of big cities, casting a bit smaller net than Verizon, and has a bit cheaper unlimited prices to reflect on that, at $80 for a single line. It does over free HBO streaming, though, and its GSM network means a much wider range of compatible phones, so its "enhanced" plans can hit the nail on the head for you.
T-Mobile, everyone's favorite underdog
Underestimate the Un-carrier at your own peril. Flamboyant CEO aside, ever since T-Mobile started a plan price war with the big guys, the combination of aggressive marketing and great phone/plan discounts, propelled it to new heights in subscriber growth. That phase seems to be abating now, though, and its prices ($80 for a single line) reflect what's on offer - fastest average download speeds, largest data cap, and free Netflix, but a tad weaker coverage outside big metropolitan areas, compared to AT&T or Verizon.
Sprint - unlimited on the cheap
The fourth-largest US carrier has the most affordable unlimited plan prices currently on offer. Heck, you can get 4 lines for your family at just $100 with the running promo! Its legacy network has some way to grow, though, especially outside large cities, but if Sprint has good coverage in your area, and you don't travel all that much to the boondocks, you are golden.
*All prices are after Auto Pay and w/ paperless billing, include unlimited talk&text in the US
So, which unlimited data plan is the best? We'll go out on a limb here, and say that the new AT&T offerings seem to be the best balance of coverage/monthly outlays. Its prices are now close to T-Mobile's, but it offers a wider LTE net, which is important if you venture outside big cities and highways.
For about $5 per line more, however, you can get Verizon's superior coverage that blankets 400,000 square miles more territory than AT&T. In addition, data guzzlers and frequent travelers will appreciate Verizon's Above Unlimited plan perks.
If you mostly chill in a large city, you may save a bunch of money with Sprint, or take advantage of the higher 50 GB "speed de-prioritization" threshold, and the other perks that T-Mobile offers. All in all, the moral of the story stays the same - whatever plan you chose, make sure its carrier has decent coverage in the areas you frequent the most!