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Which is the best carrier: Ultra Mobile, the plucky, MVNO upstart with free international calling, or, AT&T, the old guard, premium-end carrier? Let’s dive in and find out by comparing their plans, coverage, and mobile data speeds


Switching carriers? You’re in the right place. Today, we’re diving deep into Ultra Mobile and AT&T. We’ll dissect their plans, coverage, and value for money. Let’s get started.

Key Takeaways

  • Ultra Mobile offers budget-friendly plans with international calling perks.
  • AT&T provides high data caps and robust 4G and 5G coverage but at a premium price.
  • For value for money, Ultra Mobile’s plans are more budget-friendly, while AT&T offers more features at a higher cost.

Choosing a carrier is like dating. You need the right match. Ultra Mobile and AT&T are two carriers that offer different flavors. Ultra Mobile is a T-Mobile MVNO with budget-friendly plans. AT&T is a telecom giant with robust coverage and high data caps. But which one gives you the best bang for your buck?

Ultra Mobile: The Underdog with Perks

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Background

Ultra Mobile may not have the name recognition of AT&T, but it’s far from a newbie in the telecom world. Founded in 2011 and headquartered in Costa Mesa, California, this carrier has carved out a niche for itself in the competitive U.S. market.

With accreditation from the Better Business Bureau since 2017 and a B-rating, it’s a carrier that has earned some trust.

What Sets Ultra Mobile Apart?

  • T-Mobile MVNO: One of the key aspects of Ultra Mobile is that it’s a Mobile Virtual Network Operator (MVNO) for T-Mobile. What does that mean? Essentially, Ultra Mobile leases network access from T-Mobile, allowing it to offer services without owning the actual network infrastructure. This setup enables Ultra Mobile to offer competitive rates while benefiting from T-Mobile’s network strength.
  • Free International Calling: With Ultra Mobile, you can make free calls to over 90 countries. This is a huge feature that no other MVNO or carrier currently offers.
  • Better Business Bureau Accreditation: Trust is a big deal when choosing a carrier. Ultra Mobile’s accreditation from the Better Business Bureau (BBB) and its B-rating indicate a level of reliability. While it’s not a perfect score, a B-rating from the BBB is a sign that the company is generally responsive to customer complaints and operates in a trustworthy manner.

Plans and Pricing

Ultra Mobile offers two main types of plans: limited data and unlimited data. Prices range from $10 to $49 per month, depending on the plan and duration. All plans come with unlimited talk and text.

  • Limited Data Plans: Costs between $10-$39 per month. Data ranges from 250MB to 15GB.
  • Unlimited Data Plans: Costs $49 per month. Offers 40GB of high-speed data.

Features

  • Hotspot: Limited for 10GB only. Available up to the data cap.
  • International Service: Unlimited talk to 80 destinations and monthly international credits.

Best For

Users looking for budget-friendly plans with international calling perks.

AT&T: The Big Player with a Price Tag

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Background

AT&T isn’t just another name in the telecom industry; it’s a behemoth. Founded in 1983, it has grown to become one of the “Big Three” carriers in the United States, alongside Verizon and T-Mobile. With decades of experience, AT&T has built a reputation for extensive coverage and reliable service.

What Makes AT&T Stand Out?

  • High Data Caps: One of AT&T’s most compelling features is its high data caps. While many carriers throttle your data after a certain point, AT&T gives you breathing room. For instance, the Unlimited Extra plan offers a whopping 50GB of high-speed data before any throttling occurs. The Unlimited Premium plan goes even further, promising truly unlimited high-speed data.
  • 4G and 5G Networks: AT&T doesn’t just offer 4G; it’s also making strides in 5G technology. The carrier has two types of 5G: low-band and 5G Plus. The low-band 5G offers speeds slightly faster than 4G, while 5G Plus can deliver speeds faster than many home internet connections. However, 5G Plus is currently limited to select parts of 45 cities.
  • Coverage: A Closer Look: AT&T’s 4G network covers about 68% of the United States. While that might not sound impressive at first, it’s crucial to note that this coverage is robust in populated areas. Users report having reliable 4G coverage 88.9% of the time. As for 5G, it’s still growing but already covers about 15.9% of the country.

Plans and Pricing

AT&T’s plans are on the pricier side, starting at $65 per month for the Unlimited Starter Plan.

  • Unlimited Extra: $75 per month with a 50GB data cap.
  • Unlimited Premium: $85 per month with truly unlimited high-speed data.

Features

  • Hotspot: Ranges from 3GB to 50GB depending on the plan.
  • Perks: Free Stadia Pro Pass, Max subscription, and early phone upgrades.

Best For

Users who need high data caps and are willing to pay a premium for it.

Coverage and Speed

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When it comes to choosing a mobile carrier, coverage and speed are the backbone of your decision. After all, what’s the point of having a feature-packed plan if you can’t even get a signal or if your internet crawls at a snail’s pace?

In this section, we’ll delve into the coverage maps and speed metrics for both Ultra Mobile and AT&T, helping you understand how each carrier performs where it truly counts.

  • Ultra Mobile: Uses T-Mobile’s network, the largest and fastest 5G network in the country. Offers 3G, 4G LTE, and 5G coverage.
  • AT&T: Covers about 68% of the country with 4G and about 15.9% with 5G.

Customer Service

You may not think about customer service when everything is going smoothly, but it becomes crucial when issues arise. Whether it’s billing questions, technical glitches, or plan changes, the quality of customer service can make or break your overall experience with a carrier. Ultra uses the same customer service teams/call centers.

In this section, we’ll evaluate the customer service offerings of both Ultra Mobile and AT&T, giving you a clearer picture of what to expect when you need help the most.

  • Ultra Mobile: Has a one-and-a-half star rating from customers.
  • AT&T: Offers multiple support channels but also doesn’t rank well with customers with a 1.3 star rating.

Value for Money

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At the end of the day, your choice of carrier boils down to one critical factor: value for money. It’s not just about the cheapest plan or the most features; it’s about getting the most bang for your buck.

In this section, we’ll scrutinize the cost-effectiveness of both Ultra Mobile and AT&T’s plans. We’ll weigh the features, coverage, and customer service against the price you pay, helping you determine which carrier offers the best value for your hard-earned money.

Ultra Mobile: Budget-Friendly with Essentials Covered

Cost-Effectiveness

Ultra Mobile shines in the budget-friendly category. With plans starting as low as $10 per month, it’s a carrier that caters to those who want essential features without breaking the bank.

Features

While it may not offer all the bells and whistles, Ultra Mobile covers the basics well. All plans come with unlimited talk and text, and data options range from 250MB to 40GB. If you’re someone who primarily uses your phone for calls, texts, and light browsing, these plans offer more than enough.

International Perks

One standout feature is the international calling options. Ultra Mobile offers unlimited talk to 90 destinations and monthly international credits, making it an excellent choice for those who frequently communicate overseas.

Summary

In essence, Ultra Mobile provides a solid range of essential features at a budget-friendly price. It’s particularly strong for users who want basic data and international calling without spending a fortune.

AT&T: Feature-Rich but Pricier

Cost-Effectiveness

AT&T’s plans start at a higher price point, with the Unlimited Starter Plan beginning at $65 per month. While this may seem steep, it’s important to consider what you’re getting for that cost.

Features

AT&T plans are packed with features. From high data caps of up to 50GB on the Unlimited Extra Plan to truly unlimited high-speed data on the Unlimited Premium Plan, AT&T is designed for heavy data users.

Hotspot and Perks

AT&T also offers generous hotspot data allowances, ranging from 3GB to 50GB depending on the plan. Additional perks like free Stadia Pro Pass and early phone upgrades add more value to these plans.

Coverage

One of AT&T’s strongest points is its extensive coverage. With robust 4G and growing 5G networks, it’s a carrier that aims to keep you connected almost anywhere in the U.S.

Summary

AT&T offers a feature-rich experience but at a premium price. It’s best suited for users who require high data caps, extensive coverage, and are willing to pay a bit more for those benefits.

Final Thoughts on Value for Money

Ultra Mobile offers a cost-effective solution for users who need essential features, including some unique international calling perks. AT&T, on the other hand, provides a more comprehensive set of features but comes at a higher cost. Your choice will ultimately depend on what you prioritize: essential features at a lower price or a more feature-rich experience at a premium.

For sheer value for money, Ultra Mobile’s plans are hard to beat. They offer essential features at budget-friendly prices as well as free international calling (a huge USP). AT&T, on the other hand, offers more robust features and better coverage but at a premium price. Your choice boils down to what you prioritize more: cost or features.

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