In the cutthroat world of contemporary wireless communications, companies providing this might-as-well-be-essential service are in their right to do what must be done to get customers. Verizon, for instance, has been offering discounts to people who would switch over to their services from T-Mobile. AT&T, on the other hand, has revived its old GoPhone program as AT&T Prepaid with the first two months with them being made free of charge. Both networks are also putting their best foot forward when it comes to providing unlimited data plans. Unfortunately, such aggressive marketing can be a double-edged sword.

As both AT&T and Verizon are finding out, more people draw in by their unlimited data means their internet speed suffers in turn.

Unlimited plan backfires

It was in February of this year when the two major network providers announced their plans to offer unlimited data for their customers, the better to compete against the forerunners Sprint and T-Mobile. These two have built their customer base on unlimited data plans, forcing Verizon and AT&T to fight fire with fire as it were. Their efforts to entice their customers with upgrading to unlimited 4G, coupled with winning over more users migrating from T-Mobile and Sprint, ended up working too well for their own networks’ good.

When more users are utilizing data for mobile internet, greater data demand results.

That means that internet speeds on the given network would fall below optimum conditions and slow down. To wit, the LTE download connection of Verizon, which usually hangs around 16.9 Mbps, suffered a 12% speed loss to just 14.9 Mbps. AT&T, which had 13.9 Mbps in February before implementing unlimited data plans, now runs at a head-shaking 12.9 Mbps with their major influx of users.

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The fact that these two networks average almost twice the number of subscribers compared to Sprint and T-Mobile has only emphasized the severity of their internet slowdown.

More means less

According to a report released by OpenSignal on mobile network speeds, currently, the fastest downloads can attribute to T-Mobile, exceeding speeds of 15 Mbps.

At second place is Verizon (formerly faster than T-Mobile), with third being AT&T and Sprint at fourth place. The fact that the earlier unlimited data providers are at extreme ends of the ranking may come off as a surprise, but in comparison, their network speeds have not been dramatically reduced by their users, unlike Verizon and AT&T. This has been attributed to the sheer size disparity of their respective user bases. So while the larger AT&T and Verizon providers have gained much from their unlimited plans, their capacities could not handle the larger data demands and resulted in greater speed reductions.