US Mobile Launches $15 Per Month 10GB Plan

US Mobile launched a new phone plan that offers unlimited minutes and texts along with 10GB of data per month. The plan is only available with annual billing for $180 per year (equivalent to $15 per month).

Plan Details

Subscribers on the new plan can opt for either Verizon or T-Mobile’s network. In US Mobile’s parlance, the Verizon-based service is called Warp 5G, and the T-Mobile-based service is called GSM. Most subscribers will default to Verizon’s network. Unlike many low-cost plans, US Mobile’s offering has premium data. Subscribers won’t end up in the back of the priority queue when the network is congested.

Data is hard-capped, meaning that subscribers’ data service is cut off entirely after 10GB of use. Data top-ups are available for purchase, but the pricing isn’t as good as the initial $1.50 per GB rate on the first 10GB.

The annual-only nature of US Mobile’s plan may be unappealing to some prospective subscribers. For those who want to test drive the service and plan to port in an existing number, it may be best to start with US Mobile’s 30-day free trial before opting for the new plan.

Competing With Mint

I expect US Mobile is trying to position itself competitively with Mint Mobile. Mint typically reserves its best rates for customers who purchase 12 months of service upfront. Mint’s comparable $180 per year plan includes only 5GB of data.

Things To Come

In a Reddit post about the new plans, US Mobile’s CEO suggested an AT&T-based plan is coming to US Mobile in June. He also indicated that a feature allowing subscribers to set custom max speeds is coming later this year.

Photo of an open padlock

T-Mobile’s Price Unlock

Here’s how T-Mobile used to describe its old Price Lock guarantee (thank you,

Price Lock is our guarantee that we won’t raise the price of your qualifying rate plan for new accounts. You can rest assured that T-Mobile won’t raise the price of your regular monthly rate plan price…as long as you’re a T-Mobile customer and keep your plan.

As of today, new subscribers can receive something that’s still called Price Lock, but the terms are different:

Starting January 18, 2024, customers activating or switching to an eligible rate plan get our Price Lock guarantee that only you can change what you pay—and we mean it! To show just how serious we are, if we were to make a price change and you decide to leave, just let us know within 60 days and we’ll cover the cost of your final month’s recurring service charges.

The old Price Lock was purportedly a passive guarantee. Subscribers allegedly didn’t need to do anything to keep the rates they started with.1

The new Price Lock (1) doesn’t lock in prices, and (2) requires active involvement from anyone taking advantage of it. Most people don’t memorize or monitor the detailed terms of their phone plans. If T-Mobile raises prices on plans covered by the new Price Lock policy, I doubt many customers will remember they’re eligible for a bill credit if they leave.

The new policy is fine. But it needs a name change.

Coverage map of San Francisco

Coverage Map Update – Water & Zooming

I’ve released a new version of the coverage map with a few updates:

  • Restrictions that prevented users from zooming out have been lifted
  • Coverage reporting around bodies of water and shorelines has improved
  • UI changes were introduced for Alaska and US Territories
  • Roads are more visible

The rest of this post is a deep dive into the changes. I’d encourage most readers to skip the post and check out the updated map.

Zoom Freely

Previously, Coverage Critic’s map prevented users from zooming out too far. The zoom restriction is gone now.

With the small hexagons typically used in Coverage Critic’s maps, about 100 million hexagons are needed to cover the US. The map can’t display that many hexagons at once. Rendering breaks when viewing an area much larger than 100 miles across.

The updated map transitions to using larger hexagons when necessary. Roughly 40,000 of these large hexagons are needed to cover the US. Each hexagon is roughly 10 miles across.

Coverage quality is usually heterogeneous within large areas. Portions of a giant hexagon may have great coverage, while other portions of the same hexagon have no coverage. Consequently, the map is colored very simply when users are zoomed out. One color (green by default) is used if at least 50% of a hexagon is covered. If less than half a hexagon is colored, a different color (red by default) is used.

Users assessing coverage will find the most helpful information while zoomed-in and viewing the smallest hexagons available. I’ve designed the map to nudge people accordingly. While zoomed out, users will see an alert encouraging them to zoom in. With the default settings, the color palette changes a bit when large hexagons start rendering. It may not be the most aesthetically appealing design choice, but I hope it gives users an indication that a meaningful transition occurred with the shift to larger hexagons.

I find this approach strikes a good balance with the default map (the one based primarily on FCC data). I’ve not used the same approach for the map that shows crowdsourced coverage data from vehicles. Coverage data won’t render when users of the crowdsourced map zoom out too far. They’ll only see an alert encouraging them to zoom in.1

Better Accounting For Water Hexes

In earlier versions of the map, coverage wasn’t represented consistently around bodies of water and shorelines. I now have a good system for detecting hexes that are fully or partially within bodies of water. However, deciding how to display these hexes within the map is still tricky. Network operators don’t follow the same procedures for determining when and how to exclude bodies of water from their reported coverage areas.

Here’s what the last version of the map looked like when displaying Verizon’s coverage in Miami:

Coverage map screenshot in Miami showing red hexes in a body of water

If you happened to be boating within those red hexes, you’d probably have service. Verizon just excluded that area from its reporting. Most of the problematic hexes don’t appear in the new map, but it’s not perfect. Some stray red hexes occasionally appear on shorelines where coverage actually exists. There are also occasional spots where the map looks spotty because a random hex falling on a river isn’t mapped. Some of the imperfections should be resolved in future versions of the map.

For the sake of scoring cities coverage on a 0-10 scale, the water detection system should function awfully well. I can pretty safely ignore all potential water hexes where networks might be inconsistent in coverage reporting.

Alaska & US Territories UI Changes

With the previous map update, I quietly added data showing coverage in Alaska and US Territories. The map only shows networks’ native coverage, so it may not be useful for users on plans that rely on roaming coverage in these areas. If map users view these areas, they’ll see an alert that cautions them appropriately.

More Visible Roads

I’ve made roads more visible on the map, especially for users that are zoomed-in on small regions. I expect I’ll continue to tweak roads’ display properties over time.

A Work In Progress

As always, I’d love feedback. I want to thank Reddit’s NoContract community for the thoughts they’ve shared so far. Shout out to user Starfox-sf, who had great ideas for this latest update.

People holding cell phones

Visible’s January Promo

Verizon’s flanker brand, Visible, is running a pretty sweet promo through the end of the month.

Visible’s standard unlimited plan is discounted from $25 per month to $20. The premium Visible+ plan is discounted from $45 to $35.

A Two-Year Deal

Even without this month’s discounts, Visible offers some of the best value in the industry. But what I find most notable about the promo is the explicit duration of the discount (emphasis mine):

New members qualify to receive either (1) $5/mo off the normal rate of the Visible plan or (2) $10/mo off the normal rate of the Visible+ plan for each of the first 24 months of service…Now-current standard costs of service of $25/mo (Visible Plan) or $45/mo (Visible+ Plan) apply starting with the twenty-fifth month.

Carriers often entice people with long-term discounts that are neither guaranteed forever nor given an explicit end date. I get that carriers don’t know what the competitive landscape will look like years down the road, but leaving customers in the dark about how long they’ll receive a discount rubs me the wrong way.

Years ago, T-Mobile tried to buck the trend with a guarantee not to raise prices on certain plans. However, grandfathering customers forever isn’t great for business. In October, T-Mobile flirted with weaseling out of it’s commitment by automatically migrating customers away from grandfathered plans. After some bad press, the company backed down.

I like what Visible is doing. Twenty-four months is a long time. But it’s not such a long time that Visible is likely to look for loopholes to push customers away from the discounts. Perhaps I’m over-optimistic, though. I’ll note another line from the promo’s terms:

For purposes of clarity, any service plan change of any kind – whether initiated by the member or if required by Visible, including but not limited to changes from the Visible plan to the Visible+ plan and vice versa – will result in the discount being removed.