What a bummer for Sprint’s data-happy subscribers currently under the wireless carrier’s unlimited data plans. Beginning today, Sprint will start throttling, or slowing down, the connection speeds for the heaviest users of its unlimited data plans. Specifically, the fourth biggest wireless carrier in America will throttle subscribers who have breached 23 gigabytes in a month’s time. On average, mobile users usually consume about 3 gigabytes of data on a monthly basis.
This latest change in Sprint’s data policy comes about just as the wireless carrier lost its Number 3 spot to fierce rival T-Mobile, even as it struggles to enhance its overall services in order to continue to compete with the rest of the big four major wireless carriers in the United States, which includes Verizon Wireless and AT&T.
For unlimited data subscribers, Sprint’s latest move should come as another setback. Last month, customers may remember that Sprint had increased its unlimited data plan rates to $70 a month, from the previous $60 a month. Apparently, the major wireless carrier is not immune to the rising costs of delivering data to customers, and it had to raise its rates in order to continue to offer quality wireless services to its subscribers.
As for its latest changes to its data policy, Sprint believes that throttling excessive users of unlimited data plans makes sense. According to John Saw, the chief technology officer at Sprint, throttling the heaviest data consumers helps in preventing too much network congestion especially in times when network resources are stretched to their limits.
Some may remember that back in June earlier this year, Sprint had actually made a move to abandon its data throttling policy. The wireless carrier had tried to throttle its heaviest data users, specifically those that belonged to the top 5 percent of its subscribers every month, but it ended up suspending that policy. But now, it appears that Sprint has changed its mind.
Industry leaders Verizon Wireless and AT&T actually do not offer unlimited data plans anymore because they have come to believe that it was not viable in the long run as more subscribers began to gobble up heavy gigabytes, preferring instead to let customers with grandfathered unlimited data keep their plans. As for T-Mobile, it also slows down customers who eat up more than 23 gigabytes of data.
Sprint had clearly wanted to one-up its competitors by choosing to stick with its unlimited data plans. But offering this type of service can have its disadvantages too, especially when it attracts new customers who turn out to be excessive users of data. T-Mobile would agree -- back in August earlier this year, chief executive officer John Legere lashed out on data thieves and unlimited data abusers. Still, a few customers may be wondering: why bother to offer an unlimited data plan when it is not actually unlimited, after all?
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