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The only other wireless services to meet that price offer just 1 GB of data a month, and most are at least twice as expensive.
If a plan offered a lower rate for automatic payments, we factored that discount in.
We did not, however, count deals that required trading in a phone or porting over a number.
Explained analyst Brad Akyuz: “The overall average figure has been skewed up by a relatively small group of heavy users.” Our cost estimates assumed that anybody using 5 GB or more a month would want to use their phone’s mobile-hotspot feature to share their LTE bandwidth at its full speed, not cut back to 3G or worse as some “unlimited” plans require.
We also assumed 1,000 voice minutes and 500 text or multimedia messages used per month, based on usage data from the wireless-industry group CTIA.
We increased the last two numbers from those in earlier versions of this guide after seeing sustained increases in data consumption.
The market-research firm NPD Group found that in the first quarter of 2019, US smartphone owners averaged 8 GB a month—but had a median use of only 3.9 GB.(Sorry, Tracfone.)That left us with the following services to assess: For each, we computed the cost of a few typical bundles of smartphone service, setting minimal use at 1 GB of data, moderate use at 5 GB, and heavy use at 15 GB.One gigabyte a month is enough for simple emailing, Web browsing, and navigation with Google Maps or Apple Maps, while 5 GB is enough for frequent social media use and 15 GB is for folks who regularly play games and stream video.If you don't need much data, Cricket Wireless can save you a lot of money.Its rate of for 2 GB of data matches that of Metro by T-Mobile, but Cricket beats Metro (as well as AT&T, its own corporate mothership) in customer satisfaction surveys.T-Mobile’s network isn’t quite as widespread as Verizon’s (or, in some studies, AT&T’s), but it easily beats those two in its pricing for unlimited data, while its coverage outpaces that of its cheaper rival Sprint.T-Mobile also bests Verizon in terms of international-roaming plans, and a slightly wider variety of phones work on T-Mobile’s GSM network (that’s the standard most of the rest of the world uses) than on Verizon’s CDMA network, though the best phones are available for both.Some prepaid services offered service in only 30-day increments; to avoid a punitive level of math, we treated that as a month in our calculations.Finally, we didn’t factor in taxes and regulatory fees because they vary by jurisdiction (on my own T-Mobile plan, for example, these fees added up to just over 7 percent of my June 2019 bill).Unlike postpaid services, many prepaid and resold services still limit your text messages and phone calls, so the actual cost of a particular carrier may be slightly more or less if you use more or fewer minutes and texts, respectively.We also crunched these same numbers for shared-use plans for two and four lines.