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Walmart's Straight Talk Unlimited Plan Isn't Really Unlimited

By - Source: Ars Technica | B 29 comments

Walmart's unlimited every thing plan isn't actually unlimited.

As is the case for most cell phone plans touting an "unlimited" package, Walmart's Straight Talk plan doesn't really offer unlimited data as advertised.

Recently, when Walmart announced its plan to sell the iPhone with a $45/mo payment for an unlimited plan, there was good reason to be suspicious. It sounded too good. And it turns out that it was exactly that.

The Straight Talk plan actually only offers 2 GB of data per month. Past that limit and customers are sure to experience throttling on their bandwidth. Some customers found themselves completely cut off on data.

$45/mo for unlimited talk and text, and 2 GB of data isn't half bad for a cell phone plan. Still, Straight Talk might want to rethink its marketing strategies, lest it anger one too many customers with its sweet talk of unlimited data plans. 


 

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  • 14 Hide
    abbadon_34 , January 16, 2013 11:05 PM
    Sounds like the existing straight talk plan "fine print"
  • 12 Hide
    A Bad Day , January 16, 2013 11:47 PM
    I wonder when will the "Unlimited" term's definition become a synonym to "Limited"?
  • 10 Hide
    house70 , January 16, 2013 11:26 PM
    Still a better deal than existing plans from AT&T, Verizon, and such. They will throttle your bandwidth when you reach the cap AND they will slap you with overages.
Other Comments
  • 14 Hide
    abbadon_34 , January 16, 2013 11:05 PM
    Sounds like the existing straight talk plan "fine print"
  • 10 Hide
    house70 , January 16, 2013 11:26 PM
    Still a better deal than existing plans from AT&T, Verizon, and such. They will throttle your bandwidth when you reach the cap AND they will slap you with overages.
  • 12 Hide
    A Bad Day , January 16, 2013 11:47 PM
    I wonder when will the "Unlimited" term's definition become a synonym to "Limited"?
  • -3 Hide
    Benihana , January 16, 2013 11:56 PM
    A Bad DayI wonder when will the "Unlimited" term's definition become a synonym to "Limited"?

    Unlimited : Limited :: Inflammable : Flammable
  • 4 Hide
    A Bad Day , January 17, 2013 12:08 AM
    Suspicious out-of-topic shorten link is suspicious...
  • 4 Hide
    11796pcs , January 17, 2013 12:14 AM
    What did you seriously expect from Walmart?
  • 0 Hide
    blakphoenix , January 17, 2013 1:02 AM
    At least in the US you only get throttled, here in OZ you get charged $2/MB if you go over your limit.
  • 3 Hide
    QEFX , January 17, 2013 1:21 AM
    mika8311oAnyone else interested in getting on of these for 2013? http://goo.gl/qXd99One of the best pieces of hardware out right now if you ask me for the price..


    I'll pass. I prefer my identity to get stolen the old fashion way ... by a disgruntled ex-girlfriend.

  • -1 Hide
    sykozis , January 17, 2013 1:24 AM
    wow....writer should have done some actual research before writing this load of bull....

    Straight Talk uses Verizon, Sprint and T-Mobile networks. Phones available through Straight Talk on the Verizon network only work with the $30/month plan. Phones on the Sprint and T-Mobile networks can use the $45/month plan. Phones on the T-Mobile network are subject to being throttled after 2GB. Phones on the Sprint network actually have unlimited data....

    Catherine, please do some actual research. Only the GSM smartphones through Straight Talk have a 2GB cap imposed by T-Mobile. The CDMA smartphones have Sprint's unlimited data plan with no cap at all.

    11796pcsWhat did you seriously expect from Walmart?

    Walmart is restricted to the limitations imposed by the carriers. If you buy a GSM smartphone, you're stuck with whatever limitations T-Mobile imposes (including that 2GB cap that Catherine obviously made no attempt to research). If you buy a CDMA smartphone, you're stuck with any limitations imposed by Sprint (which does NOT include that 2GB cap as they offer a real unlimited data plan, unlike T-Mobile). If you read the phone packaging, it will tell you which carrier's network the phone actually uses. Verizon's network is only available for "feature phones" though and don't receive the unlimited data plan at all.
  • 0 Hide
    sykozis , January 17, 2013 1:26 AM
    blakphoenixAt least in the US you only get throttled, here in OZ you get charged $2/MB if you go over your limit.

    Straight Talk is a pre-paid service. Also, contrary to what's claimed in the article, only GSM phones get throttled after 2GB because that is how T-Mobile's network operates (contrary to their own claims). If you buy a CDMA phone, throttling is not an issue because Sprint offers an actual unlimited data plan.
  • 1 Hide
    jerm1027 , January 17, 2013 2:28 AM
    sykozisStraight Talk is a pre-paid service. Also, contrary to what's claimed in the article, only GSM phones get throttled after 2GB because that is how T-Mobile's network operates (contrary to their own claims). If you buy a CDMA phone, throttling is not an issue because Sprint offers an actual unlimited data plan.

    Virgin Mobile, Boost mobile, both run off of Sprint's network (CDMA), and both throttle after 2.5GB. It has nothing to do GSM/CDMA, rather it's the greedy asshats running the wireless networks.
    Also, T-Mobile offers an actual unlimited plan now, which is exactly where I'm going after my contract with Sprint is up.
  • 4 Hide
    tajisi , January 17, 2013 4:12 AM
    sykoziswow....writer should have done some actual research before writing this load of bull....Straight Talk uses Verizon, Sprint and T-Mobile networks. Phones available through Straight Talk on the Verizon network only work with the $30/month plan. Phones on the Sprint and T-Mobile networks can use the $45/month plan. Phones on the T-Mobile network are subject to being throttled after 2GB. Phones on the Sprint network actually have unlimited data....Catherine, please do some actual research. Only the GSM smartphones through Straight Talk have a 2GB cap imposed by T-Mobile. The CDMA smartphones have Sprint's unlimited data plan with no cap at all.Walmart is restricted to the limitations imposed by the carriers. If you buy a GSM smartphone, you're stuck with whatever limitations T-Mobile imposes (including that 2GB cap that Catherine obviously made no attempt to research). If you buy a CDMA smartphone, you're stuck with any limitations imposed by Sprint (which does NOT include that 2GB cap as they offer a real unlimited data plan, unlike T-Mobile). If you read the phone packaging, it will tell you which carrier's network the phone actually uses. Verizon's network is only available for "feature phones" though and don't receive the unlimited data plan at all.


    Before you tell someone to do their research perhaps you should do your own. You're almost completely wrong about everything you stated. Assuming you're not trolling...

    1. Verizon based Straight Talk phones can use the unlimited plan. The 'feature' phones are advertised as either $30 or $45 plan capable. Seriously. It's on the box. Did you even bother to read or look at any Straight Talk phones?

    2. Most GSM cell phones on Straight Talk were through AT&T. If you dig around in the carrier settings on those phones you will see

    3. Most of the -INITIAL- Android phones released on Straight Talk were through Sprint. This proved hugely unpopular and caused Walmart to contract Verizon to release a new generation of CDMA phones. These CDMA-V smart phones (again something you would not see since apparently you did no research and didn't bother to look anywhere at all on the box) are a part of the Verizon network. In some areas Walmart offers the LG Optimus Logic, which is a GSM Android smart phone that has APN settings for AT&T. Depending on service coverage Verizon phones are carried in some stores while AT&T based phones are in others.

    4. The 2 gig limit is well discussed on Howard Cellphone Forums. It's imposed by Straight Talk as part of their service agreement with their carriers and it's theorized that the limit depends on how loaded the towers in the area are. Some users can go well over the limit without incident, while some get shut off at relatively low data amounts.

    A little research and a little less griping at Catherine would have done you well. :) 
  • 1 Hide
    _Cosmin_ , January 17, 2013 6:12 AM
    WTF are you talking about? THEY ARE UNLIMITED as there is no limit for traffic.
    They only lower your speed past 2GB/month. After all they say "unlimited data plan" not "unlimited data and speed".
    It is so with every ISP data plan. Even if you try to argue with them, they pull out the Fair Use Policy (as is not fair for you alone to grasp and hog all their bandwidth).
    Same is with speed: they say it give you "up to 50mb/s" but that doesn`t mean that you will always have 50mb/s... you could have it only for 1 min / month and rest to crawl with 1mb/s... and still can`t sue them!
    Read again the contracts you have and see it for yourself. It is not some fancy move that company pull now... to became news.
  • 0 Hide
    sykozis , January 17, 2013 9:45 AM
    tajisiBefore you tell someone to do their research perhaps you should do your own. You're almost completely wrong about everything you stated. Assuming you're not trolling...1. Verizon based Straight Talk phones can use the unlimited plan. The 'feature' phones are advertised as either $30 or $45 plan capable. Seriously. It's on the box. Did you even bother to read or look at any Straight Talk phones?2. Most GSM cell phones on Straight Talk were through AT&T. If you dig around in the carrier settings on those phones you will see 3. Most of the -INITIAL- Android phones released on Straight Talk were through Sprint. This proved hugely unpopular and caused Walmart to contract Verizon to release a new generation of CDMA phones. These CDMA-V smart phones (again something you would not see since apparently you did no research and didn't bother to look anywhere at all on the box) are a part of the Verizon network. In some areas Walmart offers the LG Optimus Logic, which is a GSM Android smart phone that has APN settings for AT&T. Depending on service coverage Verizon phones are carried in some stores while AT&T based phones are in others.4. The 2 gig limit is well discussed on Howard Cellphone Forums. It's imposed by Straight Talk as part of their service agreement with their carriers and it's theorized that the limit depends on how loaded the towers in the area are. Some users can go well over the limit without incident, while some get shut off at relatively low data amounts. A little research and a little less griping at Catherine would have done you well.

    I've done plenty of research on the subject thank you. In fact, I've been watching Straight Talk since Walmart started it. The information I've posted is from Walmart's own marketing material, reading phone packaging, talking to actual customers (that can be verified as Straight Talk customers) and other sources... Based on the information I've collected over the last 2+ years, my post is completely accurate. So, either there has been a major change in the last 2-3 months, or service conditions and phone availability varies rather greatly (without advertisement) from market to market.
  • 1 Hide
    g00fysmiley , January 17, 2013 11:41 AM
    if it sounds to good to be true it probably is

    i pay for sprint and unlimited because i use alot of data (10+ gigs a month) but for most people 2 gigs is probably enough my wife who is not nearly as tech savy sometimes breaks using a single gig but it is rare, you just don't do it checking facebook and playing zynga games which is what most people use a smart phone for
  • 0 Hide
    happyballz , January 17, 2013 12:36 PM
    Still better value for using (StraightTalk) on major networks than buying it FROM major networks themselves... anyway you twist it. I mean where on ATT or Verizon website do you even see anything remotely close for unlimited minutes/text + 2GB at $45? ... exactly.

    But from what I have seen cap and throttling varies greatly by location and who's network you prescribe to... usually if you are in sub-urban/urban areas with decent populations they rarely throttle. If you are roaming in the boonies then it is more common.

    You can always try Net10 (same parent company as StraightT) they seem to be a tad better about throttling.
  • 0 Hide
    tajisi , January 17, 2013 1:16 PM
    sykozisI've done plenty of research on the subject thank you. In fact, I've been watching Straight Talk since Walmart started it. The information I've posted is from Walmart's own marketing material, reading phone packaging, talking to actual customers (that can be verified as Straight Talk customers) and other sources... Based on the information I've collected over the last 2+ years, my post is completely accurate. So, either there has been a major change in the last 2-3 months, or service conditions and phone availability varies rather greatly (without advertisement) from market to market.



    And I work at a Walmart Connection Center (cell phone dept) near where I go to college. :)  You really can't argue this one with me. I deal with these phones every day.
  • 0 Hide
    RADIO_ACTIVE , January 17, 2013 2:30 PM
    Its Walmart.... what did you expect
  • 0 Hide
    beachbod , January 17, 2013 8:55 PM
    wasnt there an ISP that lost a class action lawsuit for advertising unlimited when it wasnt..
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