Despite the rumors, Straight Talk denies claims of a 1.5GB data cap

by: Andrew GrushApril 10, 2013

Straight Talk

Not too long ago, prepaid cellular service in the United States had a reputation of being cheap, low-quality service only fit for those that couldn’t qualify for a contract-based service. This image has changed quite a bit in the last few years, largely because of low-cost services like Straight Talk that promise excellent coverage and unlimited data. You have to wonder though, how unlimited is “unlimited” really?

Recently their have been quite a few claims surfacing on the net suggesting that Straight Talk advertises unlimited data but in reality has an invisible ceiling set around 1.5GB of data usage. Wanting to set the record straight, the carrier took to their official blog to officially clarify that they do not impose any kind of cap.

You may have heard rumors online that there is a hard cap of 1.5GB for data on Straight Talk. We want to clear this up for you right away: We are NOT cutting off data at 1.5GB on Straight Talk. The data limit in reference only applies to Bring Your Own Phone (BYOP™) AT&T-compatible SIMs on our sister brand, NET10. In fact, most of our customers enjoy their unlimited data plans with no issues or complaints regarding their data speeds or service.

While Straight Talk is adamant that they won’t shut off service for heavy data usage unless you are directly abusing their terms and conditions, nothing is said about data throttling. In fact, an unidentified Straight Talk spokesperson told Fierce Wireless back in January that Straight talk evaluates heavy customer data intake on a case-by-case basis, and will sometimes turn to data throttling if the company feels that the customer is going overboard with intense uses like constant use of streaming services such as Hulu or Netflix.

If true, this might seem like a bit of a false advertisement, but again nothing stated by Straight Talk terms and services guarantees you won’t be throttled for extreme usage. Still, at $45 a month for unlimited talk, text and data, you have to somewhat expect that you might be making a few concessions and that the service might not be perfect.

Are you a Straight Talk customer? If so, have you had any problems with having your data services cut off or throttled?

  • Jim

    I had problems with a Straight Talk AT&T SIM card in a Galaxy Nexus. For the first four months, I used about 2gb a month without any problems. Then one day, I turned on mobile hot spot while at work to download something onto my Kindle Fire (Against the TOS, I know). I forgot to turn off the mobile hot spot and some other devices or something connected to it while I slept during the day. I received a few calls from Straight Talk, and admitted that I made a mistake.

    After that little incident, my data went from 5+ mb to <128K. It would briefly reset when I refilled my account, but within a few days it would drop back to <128K. Last month it became even slower after only 300mb of data. I complained on the FB page, their 1800 number, etc. but nothing.

    Jelly Bean Android tells me exactly how much data I use. I never exceeded 2gb a month, even with my little tethering incident. I gave the phone to a friend who uses Straight Talk AT&T SIM, and she said her data is throttled as well, making me suspect the device had been blacklisted.

    Its not unlimited data. They get away with it by telling you its unlimited 'web browsing' and that you violated their TOS by streaming video / audio / etc.

    In all honesty though, $45 for throttled 128K data is 100000000x better than Virgin Mobile's Sprint 3g.

    • fixxmyhead

      or u could go with tmobile walmart plan with 5gb of hspa+ for 30$ . nexus 4 10-15mbps in so cal

    • Steve Marshall

      Signed up with Straight Talk a few months ago. Purchased a
      Samsung Galaxy S II from them at Wal-Mart. I was not aware of the data usage limitations until I received a voicemail notification from Straight Talk this week informing me to cease my excessive data usage practices or be turned off. Wait a minute! I thought I had unlimited everything? How can it be unlimited and excessive? Spoke with ST Customer Service and they couldn’t or wouldn’t share with me what my data usage metrics were or what their definition was of unlimited or excessive. They would only tell me that any data usage outside of using a web browser had to be over Wi-Fi and that I should refer to my terms of service paragraph 6 & 7. It was then that I realized the trap I was in. Was it my failure to catch that in the beginning when I evaluated signing up? Not sure. So I searched on the topic to see if others were experiencing this and found myself here among others. Now it all comes clear to me! I wish I had been
      more thorough and figured out the TOS stipulation pertaining to data usage. However, I deem the evasiveness of the company in answering questions pertaining to data usage, including quotes from ST Executives noted in other articles, to be a service and marketing strategy that avoids pointing out this stipulation within their marketing at any time in my decision making process or after. I view unlimited and excessive to be mutually exclusive and deceptive that the term “Mobile Web Access” is not referenced in any marketing information for the buyer except in the TOS. That and the evasiveness of the company at many levels leaves me feeling deceived. I view it as a platform of deception and denial that the company is operating under and I’m moving to T-Mobile ASAP. Live and learn and take my lumps I will but I will also be reversing my promotion of ST and providing input to all legal means available to bring this company accountable in their trade practices to help others to know in advance what unlimited means in this context. Hope this helps you to be more informed when you are making your decision.

      My data usage was routine for a Smartphone. No tethering, no
      movies, a little Pandora during my commute, and other standard app functions.

  • Wesley Geddes

    I’m not with straight talk, although I have family members that are. I recently moved to T-Mobiles 30$ a month, unlimited texting, 100 minutes of talking, and unlimited data that becomes slower after 5 gb. I think it’s perfect for my needs, I don’t call that much, and If I run out, I can always use skype, which is extremely cheap.

  • I’ve been with ST for a few months now, no issues until today.

    I normally land in the 500-700 MB range each month because I usually have some kind of wifi coverage. Last month I went on a trip for a few weeks, and my data usage “skyrocketed” to 1.1 GB. Gasp. Now today I received a robocall from ST warning me about my “excessive data usage”, and threatening suspension or cancellation of my service if I don’t ratchet it back. Since I’m back under my usual wifi coverage my mobile data usage should go back down anyway, and this will hopefully not be an issue, but it’s sure as hell not encouraging.

    So, interestingly, what ST is saying in their release doesn’t sound technically false. They’re not (just) cutting off data. They’re terminating your service, and per their TOS they can do so without refunding you for the unused portion of the month, all for exceeding an undefined (and from the looks of it, far lower than 1.5 GB) threshold of usage. Pathetic.

  • Tried ST for a month, Yuck! Caps & throttles you out the ass. no more. Have TMobile now unlimited everything awesome speed and great popular phones, Now with LTE its only gonna get better.

  • Been on Straight Talk for a year or so now. Not only me but my the Old Lady too. No problems here. I use the data like I want and its there when I need it. I have the ATT BYOP from Striaght talk, and I only wish I would have gotten another micro sim before they stopped selling them. The HSPA+ leaves a little to be desired topping out at about 3mbps, but it kills the 1-200k I get on my Sprint version s3. Anybody who complains about straight talk fits into one of these categories.

    a) They use well over 5gb of data a month
    b) They bought a prepacked phone from Wal Mart
    c) You just live in a bad ATT Coverage Area.

    d) You never read the TOS

    You can’t expect Straight Talk to give you ATT Service for 45 dollars a month and make it bottomless when ATT charges 120 a month for 2gb of data.

    To noobs remember Straight Talk does not own any towers. They sell you ATT, Verizon, Sprint and Tmobile service. You can’t expect them to know anything about the service from a technical standpoint. They just bought in bulk and sold at a discount. Now ATT has pulled out and Tmo is the only one left and considering its the SAME EXACT Service as the Tmo 30 dollar plan, but you get unlimited calls and texts its a little better deal if you have a phone that supports Tmos wierd fqz, but with the TMo Sim I hear the 4g data is bottomless, as long as you can get a good signal.

    I have one friend I converted to Str8 who has both sims Tmo and ATT. He got a call from throttling. Thats the only time. He also said he would use the Tmo sim, but the coverage is poor where hes at even though he can get speeds of 10mp+ when he does get it. Its just not worth the trouble.

  • mhunter86

    I’ve used straight talk for 6 months and haven’t had any issues whatsoever. Works fine, no throttle, no cutoffs, etc. My usage doesn’t go over 2Gb / month however. I do agree that if they do have some type of cap they should just come clean and state it. I think what they are relying on is the vast majority of their users won’t approach whatever “soft cap” they have in place, therefore they are using the term “unlimited”.
    I do however think it is perfectly legit for them to say “unlimited” but not allow tethering.

  • Thanks for the info, my dad is about to get on Straight Talk and I was worried about the data cap since his phone is his only internet.

  • Josh

    I have hit the 1.5gb cap that straight talk claims doesn’t exist, and been throttled down to ~45k. This has happened multiple times to me. No hotspot or anything, i just download lots of stuff and play music.There are forum threads on Straight Talks site asking for a public resolution/truth, but a ST employee always hijacks the thread by asking to communicate only via private messaging. Smells fishy.

  • Eric Zane Siler, LPN

    I have been with the Tracfone family of Bring Your Own Device SIM cards since it has been available last February. I have used both Net10 and Straight Talk SIM cards in my unlocked Apple iPhone 4S. I have gotten phone calls from Net10 last year 3 times and have gotten my service shut off once. I had used 5.9 GB of data the month I was shut off and got called after using 1GB per week during the first 2 weeks of the new service date the other times. I have had my data throttled during 2 service months with Straight Talk due to heavy data use after adding a new service card. I am very happy with the service that Tracfone’s Straight Talk (my current provider) provides. I pay $48 and change for a service that would cost $120 on AT&T using AT&T’s towers. I would recommend it to anyone that doesn’t like a overages and likes anonymity (the major carriers ask you your name when you start an account with them but not Tracfone).

  • bob

    i had straight talk and they turned off my data when i used around 4gb of data.
    i called and they said if i did it again they would terminate my service.
    i did and they really did terminate my service 2 days after i had paid $45 for my next month. they said i would have to buy another phone.

    i went to monthly 4g from tmobile after that and it’s alot better straight talk had TERRIBLE customer service

  • Publius

    I recently left straighttalk because after about 500mb of data use I noticed my download would drop to .11 down. I have a nexus 4 with tmobile now and I love it. Just sucks I have to pay almost $100 a month again.

  • Infinite7154

    I’m in my second month of using ST AT&T and I’ve yet to be throttled. Last month I was really cautious using my data. This month I decided to push the envelope a little. I’ve downloaded the PA rom and a bunch of theme packages I stored in my Media Fire site. So far so good. I’ve surpassed the 100 MB a day threshold a couple days in a row. Now I’m working to push and see how far I can get within reason. I love the plan, I don’t see a better value anywhere.. although, I will admit, if T-Mo can get better building penetration in the western NY area, I’ll switch to the $70 unlimited everything just to have to peace of mind.

  • Wisconsinite

    I’m on month 4 of ST, 1st month was t-mobile ST & was terrible for where I live, switched to the AT&T ST sim card & light years better. I have a Samsung Galaxy Nexus – I don’t think I’m being throttled or capped, but I have no idea how to know if I am or not? I can’t complain about the service at all really – any complaint I would have, would be when I am streaming Netflix, it’ll have a couple of hiccups now & then while watching a show, but it’s not very often that I stream Netflix using data (usually using wi-fi). I would say I am not a high data user, but I don’t know how to tell if I am being throttled.

  • srewobwj

    I can tell you without hesitation that they are lying.

    I would steer clear of ST if you have any expectations regarding data service. Simply put, I’m on Wi-Fi most of the time and rarely do anything other than sync my contacts and calendar and occasionally check email and stream music when I’m mobile. But somehow, ST considers me a high data user/abuser.

    It’s gotten so absolutely absurd that they’ve completely turned my data service off. And they refuse to tell me why or turn it back on. Instead, they transfer me to a prerecorded message suggesting that they’ll let me port my number to another carrier. Gee, thanks. It’s outrageous.

    Think about that for a minute. After having been a customer of theirs for several years I purchased a high end phone (GS2) from them and the very next month they began throttling my service. A few months later they took it to Defcon 3 by completely turning off my data service and they refuse to turn it back on.

    To recap, I paid them $350 for the phone, plus $45/month for service and all I’m left with is a useless f#&@ing paper weight. They are ripping people off by selling them expensive smartphones, then making them useless by throttling and eventually turning off data service. I was never advised, warned or contacted regarding my so called abusive use. I smell a class action lawsuit.

    My advice: run away from ST, as fast as you can.

  • Just talked to straight talk rep they are allowing 1.5 gigs with att SIM card my data has been horribly slow the last 5 days or so

  • T Mb

    My son was contacted today and told he was using too much data and they are cutting off his service…so much for unlimited data! Time to cancel ST !

  • Paulette Whitley

    I was with staightalk for 4 years and I loved it. I never had problems with straighttalk, until the 3rd year, it wouldn’t allow me to get on facebook, it stated via text that I had used up all of my data for the month and I needed to purchase another card to be able to use social networks, camera, etc. I could only use my phone for phone calls in and out and this was regardless that I still had more days left in my service for that month.