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 places on its subscribers.
(Added 2/26/2020: Since this post came out, Altice Mobile’s price has changed to $40 per month for most people and $30 per month for Optimum and Suddenlink customers.)
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 limits exist despite the plan’s unlimited label. Altice Mobile doesn’t put a disclaimer or an asterisk next to its claims:
Altice’s press release is even more misleading:2
- 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 sluggish speeds. The claim in the press release that Altice offers “unlimited video streaming” is particularly misleading. 128Kbps can’t even support stable streaming of low-resolution 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. The service has a competitive price. It might be a good option for people who live in the regions where it’s available.
I hope we’ll see Altice move towards being more transparent with consumers.
- 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.
- From the press release on Altice USA’s website. An archived copy from 9/6/2019 is available here.
- 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.
- “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).”
- See the excerpt in the previous footnote.
- “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.”
- “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.”
- Google lists the bitrate range for 240p as 300-700Kbps.
- 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.”