Best Mobile Providers for Streaming

We compared mobile carriers in terms of data limits, speed, cost, and added benefits to determine that AT&T is the best overall for streaming.

Best Overall
ATT
AT&T
3.8 out of 5 stars
3.75
Starting from
$65
/mo
  • pro
    Unlimited data allotment
Best Value
Visible
visible
4 out of 5 stars
4
Starting from
$35
/mo
  • pro
    Unlimited data allotment
Best Coverage
Verizon
Verizon
4.5 out of 5 stars
4.5
Starting from
$65
/mo
  • pro
    Unlimited data allotment
Best Budget
Mint Mobile
mint mobile
4 out of 5 stars
4
Starting from
$15
/mo
  • pro
    Unlimited data allotment
Easton Smith
Jan 25, 2024
Icon Time To Read9 min read

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Finding the best mobile provider plan for streaming requires more than just looking for unlimited data and a low price tag. Carrier unlimited plans aren’t usually truly “unlimited,” and most have a data cap where your speeds will eventually slow down, and streaming could suffer. Additionally, some unlimited plans offer free Hulu or Max, which is another thing to consider when choosing the best carrier for streaming.

In our search, cell plans from AT&T, Visible, Mint Mobile, and Verizon topped the list thanks to fast 5G speeds, plans with truly unlimited data to livestream your favorite show, and valuable add-ons to help you save money.

Our pick for best carrier for streaming overall, AT&T and its Unlimited Premier plan, doesn’t slow down data speeds, no matter how much data you use, which is hard to find. That combination of data and access to great streaming quality is why we recommend it so highly. And it's $4 less monthly than Verizon's plan with unlimited premium data. 

Visible's plan is truly 100% unlimited with no data cap of any kind. However, the carrier could deprioritize you during heavy network load, as they run off Verizon’s network, and Verizon customers get priority. Still, Visible is an excellent option for streaming.

Those are just a few of your choices, so let’s get into the details.

What to look for when choosing a cell plan for streaming?

Depending on how often you plan on streaming video on your phone, the most important thing to look for is how much data the plan actually offers. AT&T, like almost every other carrier, has several “unlimited” data plans, but they’re not all truly unlimited. Instead, once you use up your high-speed data or use more than the average customer, they may begin to slow your speeds, also known as throttling. Cell providers call it unlimited, but ultimately, there’s still a cap. You'll need to get AT&T's or Verizon's most expensive plan to avoid soft caps or throttling.

Now, keep in mind that carriers don’t automatically slow down your internet connection once you reach that limit. AT&T will only throttle its Starter and Extra unlimited plans if it needs to, like in a densely populated area, heavy network loads at a football game, or things of that nature. Luckily for you, the network is likely plenty stable when you’re home on the couch, so throttling isn’t a huge concern.

Still, be aware of (and ask the employee if you're in a store) if the plan you’re considering throttles data, and if so, at what point. That’s why we’re recommending AT&T’s Elite plan as the best overall—it guarantees unlimited data, no throttling, and no data cap.

What is throttling and deprioritization?

It’s easy to confuse the two terms throttling and deprioritization, so here’s what you need to know before we proceed.

  • Throttling is when your cell phone company slows down your data because you’ve used up your allotted amount of 4G or 5G data for the month.
  • Deprioritization is when your cell phone company slows down your data (internet and streaming speeds) occasionally because the network is congested.

Additionally, carriers will throttle your data after you’ve gone over your limit, but only when the network is congested. They’re prioritizing customers that haven’t used all their data yet, over you, but only if they have to.

What's an MVNO?

Visible is a mobile virtual network operator, also known as an MVNO. These are typically smaller, prepaid cell networks that use bigger companies’ existing cell towers. Visible piggybacks off of Verizon Wireless. (In fact, Verizon owns Visible.)

In this case, you know you’re getting fast cell service through Visible simply due to the ties with Verizon.

AT&T Unlimited Premium: Best overall

Truly unlimited data per month and you’ll get 4K UHD streaming

What we like about AT&T's Unlimited Elite cell plan

At $85.99 per month, this certainly isn’t the cheapest unlimited plan available, but it's also not the most expensive. You get what you pay for, though, and you’ll have enough data to watch anything and everything without worry. Plus, AT&T offers tons of fantastic phones, delivers fast 5G speeds nationwide, and getting 4K UHD streaming is icing on the cake.

Plenty of data options

Like we mentioned above, AT&T has some of the best unlimited data plans for streaming. The peace of mind you’ll get by not having to worry about missing your favorite TV show versus going over your limit is worth the price.

What we don’t like about AT&T's Unlimited Premium cell plan

Our only major complaint has to do with money, as this plan is rather pricey

A bit expensive

No one wants to spend more money than they have to. So while $86 per month is a lot for unlimited data, just remember everything you’re getting. And if you don't need endless, high-speed data each month, AT&T does offer two lower unlimited plans at $76 and $66 per month, but those are limited to 75GB (Extra) and only offer standard-definition streaming (Starter).

No perks

While it offers unlimited premium data for less than Verizon, you won't get any freebies or add-ons with AT&T. 

Visible Unlimited Plan: Best value

Unlimited data, speeds, and hotspots for half the cost of most of the competition

What we like about Visible's Unlimited Plan

What’s not to like here? Visible runs on Verizon’s expansive and stable 4G/5G network and offers unlimited data, unlimited mobile hotspots for tethering, and no throttling on 4G LTE. For the price, it’s hard not to consider this over Verizon or even AT&T. The value is clearly visible, if you know what we mean. 

Great multi-line plan options

Similar to family plans, Visible offers discounts when you participate in their Bring a Friend referral program. When you invite friends or family to join Visible, you and your referral will get a $20 discount on your next bill. No, you don’t share data or billing accounts, so there’s no need to worry. Each person you bring over gets you a discount, and you can save on up to 12 monthly charges.

What we don’t like about Visible's Unlimited Plan

We don’t particularly like a few things, although they’re certainly not deal-breakers by any means.

Deprioritization

The first is deprioritization because they’re an MVNO, and they all do it. If Verizon’s network has any congestion or is under heavy load in a particular location, Visible users will get slower speeds and deprioritized in favor of Verizon’s actual customers.

Capped 5G speeds

Another minor complaint is 5G speeds. While Visible offers unlimited fast 4G LTE, newer devices capable of 5G get capped at 200 Mbps. That’s not very fast, not enough to stream TV, making 5G almost not even worth using. 

Streams in 480p

The only potential deal-breaker with Visible is that, just like T-Mobile, video streams on YouTube, Netflix, and just about any other app are only watchable in 480p resolution. That’s not even 720p HD, which might bother potential buyers.

That said, on a small smartphone display, 480p is technically considered “DVD quality,” so this isn’t as big of a deal as some make it out to be. Either way, keep in mind that you won’t be able to stream anything in 1080p.

Verizon Wireless Unlimited Ultimate: Best coverage

Superfast 4G LTE and 5G speeds nationwide and you get cheap add-on perks

What we like about Verizon's Unlimited Ultimate cell phone plan

Verizon is an excellent choice for anyone that wants to live stream movies, TV, or sports on their phone. Here are some reasons why.

Great coverage, speeds, and customer service

They have some of the best coverage in the nation, fast 4G LTE and 5G almost everywhere, and the customer support is pretty great.

Includes cheap streaming bundle add-ons

Perhaps the best part, though, is that along with unlimited high-speed data, you can choose from a bunch of different bundles for only an extra $10 a month each. Here's a quick peek at Verizon's add-on bundles:

  • Disney Bundle: Includes Disney+ Premium (no ads), Hulu (with ads), and ESPN+ (with ads).
  • 100 GB mobile hotspot ($45/month value)
  • Apple One: Includes Apple Music, Apple TV+, Apple Arcade, and iCloud+.
  • Walmart+ Membership: Includes free grocery delivery on Walmart orders over $35, a Paramount+ Essential subscription, and up to 10¢ off per gallon in fuel at Exxon.
  • Apple Music Family
  • Smartwatch Data & Safety: Includes unlimited smartwatch data plan discount and the Care Smart app with Get Help and a professional monitoring discount. 
  • +play Monthly Credit: Includes $15 a month to spend on +play subscriptions like Xbox Game Pass, Netflix, MasterClass, Max, Paramount, and more.
What we don’t like about Verizon's Unlimited Ultimate cell phone plan

There’s plenty to love about Verizon, but they fall short for those trying to get high-quality streaming on a budget.

Unlimited Ultimate is pricey

Verizon's Unlimited Ultimate plan packs a punch, giving you unlimited premium data, 60 GB of high-speed hotspot data, and up to 50% off data plans for devices connected to your plan. As you can tell, we really like this plan, so our only real complaints are with price, especially since none of Verizon's perks are built-in with plans.

At $90 a month for a single line (before any perk add-ons), the Unlimited Ultimate plan teeters on the edge of being too expensive. But if you're sick of throttled speeds and unreliable hotspot data and this plan fits your budget, this is the perfect plan for you.

Mint Mobile Unlimited: Best budget plan

A very affordable unlimited data plan with a catch or two you’ll want to take note of

What we like about Mint's Unlimited cell phone plan

Mint Mobile is one of the hottest new cell providers these days. They’re fun, affordable, and reliable thanks to T-Mobile’s network and have some extremely budget-friendly plans. If you’re trying to live stream video or sports, though, you’ll want the highest unlimited data plan.

Great BYOD option

We love that you can bring your own phone and enjoy the extended 5G coverage and speed of T-Mobile, all for only $30 per month. That’s honestly hard to beat and an excellent choice for teens or college kids.

What we don’t like about Mint's Unlimited cell phone plan

It’s not all good news, though. Here’s where Mint isn’t as refreshing.  

Deprioritization and throttling

Mint Mobile is an MVNO, so T-Mobile may deprioritize your service during network congestion. Then again, you can’t complain when you spend more on Starbucks each week than you do for your phone service. At only $30, something has to give somewhere.

Another downside is data throttling. Mint’s most expensive unlimited plan is actually just a 40 GB/month cell phone plan. You’ll still have service if you exceed 40 GB, but they can potentially throttle your speeds to unusably slow levels.

While T-Mobile is one of the best options these days and has more coverage after buying Sprint, they still don’t cover as many areas as AT&T or Verizon, so keep that in mind.

3, 6, and 12-month contracts

While Mint Mobile's discounts are rather impressive, these discounts operate on a prepaid plan structure. For example, Mint is currently running a promotion for its Unlimited plan for $15 a month, in which you'll pay $45 upfront. After those promotional three months, you'll then choose another contract length ranging from three, six, or 12 months and pay for the whole contract length at once.

But if you budget-conscious shoppers don't mind sacrificing larger payments for higher savings in the long run, you'll love Mint Mobile compared to the $90 prices at AT&T and Verizon.

Recap: What’s the best mobile provider for streaming?

The best mobile provider for streaming ultimately comes down to how much data you plan to use while streaming endless movies and TV. It’s more about the data limits than the individual carriers, so find a plan that suits your needs.

So, let’s do a quick recap of the highlights and what to look for so you’re better prepared when you buy an unlimited data phone plan for streaming.

  • Best overall value: AT&T’s Premium plan offers up some of the best speeds, full coverage, and the most data (no data throttling or deprioritization cap) for $85 a month. It’s an expensive plan, but you’ll have the most to work with.
  • Best value: The best overall value is Visible. You get all the benefits of Verizon Wireless unlimited 4G LTE and 5G for only $45 a month. Just be aware of deprioritization and throttling.
  • Best coverage: Verizon’s Unlimited Ultimate plan offers the best bang for your buck, but you’ll pay $90 a month for all that goodness. You get nationwide 5G coverage, 50 GB of data per month, and a plethora of streaming, hotspot, shopping, and device discounts to choose from.
  • Best budget: Mint Mobile’s $15 unlimited data plan is shaking up the entire industry, and it’s worth consideration. Just remember the price goes up your contract unless you renew and you’ll potentially deal with deprioritization and throttling if you’re a heavy user.

We hope this review of the best mobile providers for streaming helps clear a few things up regarding unlimited data plans, throttling, pricing, and more as you invest in a new smartphone plan.

Now get ready to Netflix and chill or Amazon Prime and binge time.

Methodology

To select our list of the best mobile providers for streaming, we started by comparing all the unlimited plans currently available. And trust us, you’ll need unlimited data. We used powerful comparison tools from our partners at WhistleOut to find unlimited plans with the most data, fastest speeds, any potential throttling limits, and cost.

We’ve extensively researched, tested, and used all these cell phone carriers and their networks so you don’t have to. In fact, we’ve reviewed cell phone plans from all the major carriers big and small.

Then, we used that knowledge to look at each unlimited plan, its cap or potential for throttling, network coverage, and price, to determine which mobile provider is best for streaming.

Easton Smith
Written by
Easton Smith
Easton has worked as a freelance writer and researcher for several years, reviewing health, lifestyle, and technology products. He has probably read more Terms of Use contracts than any human alive. When he’s not sitting in front of a computer, Easton spends his time camping, climbing, and volunteering with humanitarian aid organizations.

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