In what seems to be a coincidence following AT&T’s latest changes to GoPhone Walmart and Tracfone’s Straight Talk has increased the monthly data allotment from the previous 2.5GB threshold before throttling to 3GB across the entire service, meaning that regardless which carrier powers the SIM card or device, subscribers now get 3GB of data every month.
However, even though this change came quietly and with no promotion, there still lie issues with how Straight Talk treats its customers that actively use said data access, as a new wave of early throttling complaints has been making the rounds on forums and across social media over the past few months, with many coming from customers on the BYOP program using AT&T SIM cards that complain of being throttled at 100MB of use to having data cut off completely regardless of the total amount of data used in a given monthly service cycle.
It was hoped that by enacting the explicit data usage terms last year that Straight Talk would be more forthright and transparent about how it allows customers to use the monthly data allowance as well as finally enable some long-requested features in its online account management backend, such as a data usage counter or at least provide a shortcode service for such a request.
Alas, Straight Talk has launched a shortcode to check data usage regardless of carrier (Text USAGE to 611611) but it wasn’t widely publicized until recently. The tool provides reasonably accurate results regardless of carrier and many that have used it have noticed that it is accurate to within +/- 1MB which means that ST is rounding up usage.
However, it completely throws off the marketing being done by Straight Talk, which touts streaming media usage, despite streaming video being explicitly banned by the current Terms of Service and streaming audio services being affected by the arbitrary throttling still found in many complaints.
While this change is a positive step forward for Straight Talk, until it addresses the longstanding complaints about data usage and clarifies its stance on streaming media, prospective and current customers will continue to be wary of the service as long as the perception remains that data service is inconsistent and throttling continues to be arbitrary.
If Straight Talk wants to improve its perception, it must be more proactive in offering assurances that its data allotments are free from any throttling before the new soft cap and that customers will no longer have their data access cut off completely despite using data access as intended. Only then will the perception of the service change to a more positive one where more people are willing to take a chance on saving money for a nearly equivalent level of wireless service.