You've probably heard of AT&T, the mobile behemoth with the industry's fastest network. H2O Wireless, FreeUp Mobile, and the eight other mobile virtual network operators (MVNOs) that use AT&T's network to operate their prepaid service may seem unfamiliar to you.
The major cellular networks—AT&T, Verizon, T-Mobile, and Sprint—have agreements with MVNOs to use their towers. As a result, a prepaid SIM card might provide coverage that is nearly identical to a standard plan. In this article, we’ll review all of the cell phone carriers that use the AT&T network.
It's tough to say which AT&T alternatives are the best for everyone. However, we do have a few recommendations for specific types of mobile users:
The cheapest (and most popular) Red Pocket Mobile plan is just $10 per month. You'll receive 500 minutes, 500 messages, and 500 MB of data with it. Red Pocket also offers inexpensive unlimited call and text plans with additional data.
Best for heavy data users: Unlike many other carriers on this list, Cricket Wireless offers a genuinely unlimited plan that doesn't limit your high-speed data to 15 or 20 GB. A 15 GB mobile hotspot option is also available.
FreeUp Mobile is best for low-data consumers because it offers low-cost limited-data plans with free international voice and text. However, there are no unlimited options available.
For foreign callers, the following is the best option: H2O Wireless provides easy-to-understand options that are ideal for international callers. This MVNO offers unlimited talk and text to more than 50 countries.
That's a lot of different cell phone plans. Why are so many competitors seeking access to AT&T's cell towers in the first place? Let's take a closer look at this.
How good is AT&T’s network?
So, what does being on the AT&T network imply for all of these MVNOs? In a nutshell, it implies good coverage, fast data, and a quickly increasing 5G infrastructure.
AT&T's coverage is ranked third overall, behind Verizon and T-Mobile. This means that 4G LTE is available in 58 percent of the country. Although this may not seem like much, the majority of the coverage gaps are in rural areas of Wyoming, Nebraska, and other states.
The coverage indicated in this map should be available with a SIM card from any of the MVNOs mentioned in this article. If that's still not enough coverage for you, consider T-Mobile, Verizon, or one of the many MVNOs that use those two networks.
What is deprioritization?
Data deprioritization is a problem for all of these smaller, prepaid companies who use AT&T's network. When the network becomes overburdened, AT&T decides to throttle the data speeds of some customers in order to keep other customers (generally the highest-paying ones) at full speed.
So, whether you're trying to live stream a huge event or download a movie in the middle of a work conference, be patient. Check out these premium phone plans if you need a plan that won't put you last.
Straight Call offers a traditional mobile sandwich that includes talk, text, and data. Keep all the posh condiments in one place.
Unlimited data plans at an affordable price
An international strategy that is solid
There are no family plans
Straight Talk is a moniker that pretty much tells it all. This MVNO offers a few straightforward options with no frills. Straight Talk offers a 3 GB data plan as well as a variety of unlimited data options.
While Straight Talk's plans are less expensive than those offered by AT&T or Verizon, they can't compete with the low-cost plans offered by many other MVNOs. You might want to consider these alternative options if you're going to pay $50 or more for an unlimited data package.
Straight Talk does not have any family plans, so sorry mothers and papas.
Pure TalkUSA provides more low-cost options than a stick can shake.
A wide range of low-cost plans is available.
There are no extra fees for going above your limit.
Plans for the entire family
Limits on data usage
Although Pure TalkUSA and Straight Talk may sound similar, the two budget cell phone companies are actually quite different. Straight Talk provides a restricted number of plans, whereas Pure TalkUSA has a half-dozen, ranging from 1GB to unlimited data.
All Pure TalkUSA plans include unlimited talk and text as well as low-speed (128 Kbps) data. So you won't be charged overage costs if you spend too much time scrolling through your Instagram feed (the photographs will just load very slowly once your high-speed data has been used up).
Pure TalkUSA's service has a full-speed data cap, which is a disadvantage. The "unlimited" package from Pure TalkUSA only guarantees 22 GB of full-speed data. That's less than the majority of other businesses, including MVNOs.
If you're a huge gamer, streamer, or social media user, you might want to look for a different prepaid cell phone provider.
Cricket Wireless may provide you with unlimited bandwidth as well as a mobile hotspot. However, you will have to pay a one-time setup cost.
Both limited and unlimited data plans are available.
Option for a mobile hotspot
There is a startup charge.
You've undoubtedly heard of Cricket Wireless before, unlike some of the other MVNOs on this list. This bargain provider has been around the block a few times and has figured out what customers want: plenty of data and mobile hotspots.
For individuals who need to work (or just watch a few episodes of Parks and Recreation) while stranded at an airport during a stopover, the More Unlimited & 15 GB Mobile Hotspot package is a great price. Of course, you can deprioritize your data. However, the plan does not have a strict data cap, which we appreciate.
The $10 setup cost is the most evident disadvantage of Cricket Wireless. Cricket, what's the deal? I assumed we were old friends.
Pix Wireless has some good ambitions, but they aren't enough to make them stand out in a crowded market.
There are numerous plans to pick from.
Options for pay as you go
The unlimited data plan is more expensive.
Pix Wireless is incredibly spicy if diversity is the spice of life. This MVNO offers a variety of data plans, including restricted, unlimited, and pay-as-you-go options.
However, just because Pix Wireless offers a variety of options does not mean that they are all suitable for everyone.
Pix's ideas are, in fact, on the more expensive side. For example, while its $55 Emerald Monthly Plan is more expensive than the unlimited data plans offered by the other providers in this article, it does not appear to provide any additional benefits.
So, unless you're a big fan of pay-as-you-go plans, you might want to utilize one of the other providers on this list to connect to AT&T's network.
Finding the correct plan is simple with H2O. However, this does not imply that you can afford it.
There are a lot of simple plans to choose from.
International benefits are favorable.
For an MVNO, it's quite pricey.
H2O Wireless is AT&T's answer to Apple in terms of MVNOs. It has a clean and straightforward appearance. Its goods are practical and simple to use. However, it will come at a price.
Unlimited call and text, as well as 500 MB of data, are available for $20. That isn't an exorbitant price, but it is a little high for an MVNO. The Monthly Unlimited plan from H2O costs $60 per month, which is more than any other option in this lineup.
Unlimited call and text to 50+ countries is one benefit of this increased pricing. H2O is a terrific way to keep in touch with friends and family that live far away.
What does the name Red Pocket mean? We don't know, however it does have some reasonably priced plans.
Low-cost data plans with a limited amount of data
There are more than 70 countries where you can make free international calls.
Only specific phones are compatible with particular plans.
Is it a Redbox Hot Pocket that you're looking for? Maybe it's a Red Bull that fits in your back pocket perfectly. Red Pocket isn't a game; it's a phone provider with some great deals on limited-data subscriptions.
That $10 Monthly Plan is a one-of-a-kind deal. For starters, it gives you the option of selecting your own network. You can connect to AT&T like the rest of these MVNOs, or you can connect to Verizon if the coverage is better. You'll get 500 minutes, 500 messages, and 500 MB of high-speed data after you join up.
Red Pocket can hook you up with unlimited talk and text plus 3 GB of data for $19 if you have a little more money to spend on your cell phone plan. Red Pocket, you've done well.
Just make sure that the Red Pocket plan you choose is compatible with your iPhone, Galaxy, or other devices.
Tracfone may be a prepaid phone company from the 1990s, but it has a lot more to offer than nostalgia.
There are numerous plans to pick from.
There are options for longer pay durations.
For those who utilize a lot of data, this isn't the best option.
For decades, Tracfone has been in the prepaid phone market. While the corporation now delivers data and supports smartphones, some of its plans are still somewhat outdated. For example, a yearly renewal of a 1500-minute plan with 1.5 GB of data.
Tracfone isn't going to be everyone's preferred method of connecting to the AT&T network. It's a wonderful value for individuals who only require a cell phone to plan rides every now and then—perhaps your kids or parents.
Net10 Wireless has a number of good medium-tier data plans, however, its "unlimited" plan falls short.
Reasonably priced mid-level plans
Select a network.
Data caps are limited.
Net10 Wireless offers a one-of-a-kind service model. Rather than partnering with just one major carrier, such as AT&T, Net10 has partnered with all four of the “big four” networks to provide service. As a result, Net10 clients are assigned to the network that best suits their needs in their location and with their device.
As a result, Net10 may or may not be able to connect to the AT&T network. Net10, however, has some good deals on mid-level data plans regardless of which network you're on.
For many casual phone users, a $35 Unlimited plan with unlimited talk, text, and 4 GB of full-speed data will be enough. If you only use it for Google Maps, email, and the occasional Facebook scroll, then 4 GB of data will go a long way. In addition, if you go over your data limit, Net10 gives unlimited bandwidth at 2Gdata.
When it comes to data caps, we're unhappy to learn that Net10's $60 plan only includes 12 GB of full-speed data. That hardly qualifies as an "unlimited" plan. If you're spending that much money, you might as well get an unlimited plan from a standard carrier.
Consider a FreeUp low-data plan if you're seeking low-cost, uncomplicated phone service.
Free international phone calls and SMS messages
There are no unlimited data options available.
The plans offered by FreeUp Mobile are similar to those offered by the other providers mentioned in this article. For a low price, they provide call and text, as well as some restricted data. You'll also get free international calls and texts to a number of countries with FreeUp.
Those looking for plans with unlimited data will have to seek elsewhere. For $45 (which, oddly, is more data than what some other MVNOs consider "unlimited"), FreeUp's most expensive package gives 15 GB of full-speed data.
This little-known MVNO has a small number of data options to choose from.
Optional unlimited data plan
Expenses are higher than those of other MVNOs.
i3 Mobile may sound futuristic, but its plans are quite simple. There are four plans to choose from 1 GB, 10 GB, Unlimited, and Unlimited Plus. Every plan includes unlimited talk and text.
When these plans are compared to those offered by other AT&T MVNOs, none of them jump out as particularly good offers. The i3 Mobile Unlimited Plus plan costs $71, which is comparable to AT&T's Unlimited Extra package.
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