Beyond the Big Four

If you venture beyond the four major national cellphone-service providers, or carriers, you’ll find a varied mix of data-plan-pricing options from which to choose. Ting and U.S. Cellular still charge overage fees when you exceed your data allotment for the month. Other carriers have unlimited-data plans that have slightly different limitations than the ones that the big four provide.

For example, Cricket’s unlimited-data plan doesn’t slow your speed when you’ve consumed a set amount of data, but it caps speeds at 8 megabits per second. That’s considerably slower than are the speeds that are possible on the four major networks, but it still is fast enough to stream high-definition video. Virgin Mobile’s unlimited-data plan provides only 5GB or 10GB of 4G data before it slows you to 2G speeds—enough for only web surfing and email. The 5GB data plan costs $35 per month, and the 10GB plan costs $45 per month. Six streaming-music services are exempted from Virgin Mobile’s data caps.