Altice’s Unlimited Plan Has Lots of Limits

Altice Mobile just launched with a tempting offer. Altice’s only plan, its “unlimited everything” plan, is only $30 per line each month.[1] A lot of technology websites have been writing about the new offering, and most of them aren’t mentioning how many limits Altice puts on its subscribers. Altice Mobile is at fault here. The company has been unusually non-transparent about the limitations it imposes.

In my previous post, I was critical of Total Wireless for marketing one of its plans as an unlimited plan, even though it involved a significant limitation:

Total Wireless is at least is transparent in letting customers know that some limits do exist despite labeling the plan as unlimited. Altice Mobile doesn’t put a disclaimer or an asterisk next to its claims:

Altice’s press release is even more misleading:[2]

Altice Mobile offers one simple plan with unlimited everything:

  • unlimited data, text, and talk nationwide,
  • unlimited mobile hotspot,
  • unlimited video streaming,
  • unlimited international text and talk from the U.S. to more than 35 countries, including Canada, Mexico, Dominican Republic, Israel, most of Europe, and more, and
  • unlimited data, text and talk while traveling abroad in those same countries.

Potential customers wanting to understand Altice Mobile’s limitations need to find their way to a web page full of legalese titled Broadband Disclosure Information.[3] As it turns out, Altice has lots of limitations:

  • Mobile hotspot is typically throttled to a maximum of 600Kbps (a fairly slow speed).[4]
  • Video is typically throttled to a maximum of 480p.[5]
  • After 50GB of use in a month, video traffic and hotspot traffic are throttled to 128Kbps.[6]
  • Roaming data is throttled to 128Kbps.[7]

As I discussed in my last post, it’s silly to call a service unlimited while throttling to especially low speeds. The claim in the press release that Altice offers “unlimited video streaming” is particularly misleading. 128Kbps can’t support stable streaming of even low-resolution, 240p video.[8] Turns out the claim of unlimited international data in 35 countries is also misleading. International data after the first gigabyte is throttled to 128Kbps.[9]

Despite the limitations, there’s a lot that’s exciting about Altice Mobile. It might be a good option for people who live in the limited set of regions where it’s available. Even with its limitations, the service still has a competitive price. I hope we’ll see Altice move towards being more transparent with consumers.

Footnotes

  1. The rate comes down to $20 per line if you’re already an Optimum or Suddenlink customer. Both the $30 per month and $20 per month rates include a discount for using automatic payments. Taxes and fees will push the actual amounts paid each month a bit higher.
  2. From the press release on Altice USA’s website. An archived copy from 9/6/2019 is available here.
  3. I wasn’t able to archive this page using the web-based archiving tools I usually use. I did save a PDF of the page on September 6, 2019. I’m happy to share it in the event anyone would like to view it.
  4. “Performance with Altice’s ‘Unlimited’ plan. The ‘Unlimited’ data option provides unlimited data usage at a regular monthly rate per line (promotional rates may vary). Speeds for video streaming over LTE and hotspot tethering will be reduced to 2G (e.g., 128 Kbps) after 50 gigabytes (GB) of data usage in a month for the remainder of the billing period after the allotment is exceeded. Subject to this allotment policy, use of your device as a WiFi hotspot will be unlimited at 600 Kbps speeds, and streaming video will be at DVD quality (480p).”
  5. See the excerpt in the previous footnote.
  6. “Performance with Altice’s “Unlimited” plan. The “Unlimited” data option provides unlimited data usage at a regular monthly rate per line (promotional rates may vary). Speeds for video streaming over LTE and hotspot tethering will be reduced to 2G (e.g., 128 Kbps) after 50 gigabytes (GB) of data usage in a month for the remainder of the billing period after the allotment is exceeded.”
  7. “While an Altice customer’s mobile device is connected to another provider’s mobile network (“off-network” or “domestic roaming”) speeds will be up to 2G.”
  8. Google lists the bitrate range for 240p as 300-700Kbps.
  9. Altice is a bit more transparent about this limit than the other ones. The following disclaimer is visible after expanding details about international coverage on Altice’s Plan page: “International data use after 1GB of use is throttled to 128Kbps.”

14 thoughts to “Altice’s Unlimited Plan Has Lots of Limits”

    1. When I started going through the checkout process, it looked like I’d have to pay a small amount beyond the base price in taxes and/or fees, but it was pretty modest.

    2. Altice mobile is great for people traveling to Europe, while “high speed data is limited to 1GB you can purchase more, and for $20 for cable customers, what more can you ask for?

  1. How does it switch between Sprint and AT&T? Does it try to stay on Sprint even if the signal is poor? When on AT&T are you roaming with data restricted to “2G” speeds? I live in an area with a Sprint signal, but data speeds are unusable many times.

    1. Hi Chuck,

      Unfortunately, I’m not sure. My best guess is that Altice generally tries to use Sprint’s network if it’s available, even when the connection is weak.

      Based on my initial reading of stuff published by Altice, I thought that roaming on AT&T’s network would be restricted to 2G speeds. However, there was some discussion on Reddit where other people suggested that Altice may not limit AT&T roaming to 2G speeds. I’m not sure what to think. You could try reaching out to Altice with this question, but it may not be easy to get a clear answer.

      Sorry I can’t be more helpful!

  2. Hey there, Altice one mobile customer here. Switched from Sprint to this (yeah I know…). Before I swapped over, sprint failed to get service to my phone inside my office. On altice mobile, I get reliable service at my desk. The throttle is annoying, very annoying. But the service range is impeccable. I don’t lose phone service at the lake anymore like I did with just purely sprint. If you are on a call, it won’t swap towers from sprint to att. If you happen to try and make a call while swapping towers, you’ll get an error when you attempt the call. It usually doesn’t last long, like 5 seconds and it starts working again.

    Is AT&T better? Hell yeah, but for a realistic 20 bucks a month, it’s hard to pass up. I didn’t pass it up and I’m happy with my service, especially after coming over from sprint. Service quality is AT&T > Altice Mobile > Sprint.

    1. What do you mean by throttle? My father in law lives by the lake sprint won’t work out there AT&T does. My husband has AT&T, ihave TMobile I refuse to pay AT&T prices. Was thinking about switching to altice.

      1. Hi Heather,

        A throttle is a speed cap (i.e., a maximum speed) that a carrier imposes on a customer. I explain throttling in a bit more detail here. Some of Altice’s throttling-related policies are discussed in this post.

  3. I just switched over from AT&T to Altice (I’m a Suddenlink customer already). On AT&T, I had 22gb of high speed data before being throttled, and no mobile hotspot, so for 1/3 of the price (I was on prepaid), I’m very happy so far. The hotspot is slow, for sure, but it’s usable for light stuff.

  4. I tried to switch from ATT to Altice with my iPhone 6 Plus for $20, as I’m an Optimum customer. Despite trying 3 or different SIM cards, they could never get me connected, & the customer service is strictly IM’s, so it was hours of effort to no avail. Anyone out have this issue? Or know how to get my phone working on their system?

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