Sprint’s unlimited data won’t be so ‘unlimited’ after all, plans to start throttling speeds for heavy users

by: William Neilson JrMay 8, 2014

Sprint Unlimited Data

According to Fierce Wireless, Sprint is soon going to be throttling their heaviest users in the company’s most congested areas. Customers of both Sprint’s postpaid and prepaid services, as well as their Boost Mobile and Virgin Moobile prepaid brands, are receiving notifications from the company informing them they’ll soon face a new prioritization management scheme.

text message sent to Virgin Mobile customers said:

“Beginning 6/1/14, to provide more customers with a high quality data experience during heavy usage times, Virgin Mobile USA may manage prioritization of access to network resources in congested areas for customers within the top 5 percent of data users.”

This would mean that Sprint is moving away from their “Truly unlimited data” ads and towards other carriers such as Verizon and AT&T who throttle users due to supposed capacity constraints (even though Sprint, AT&T and Verizon own a ridiculous amount of spectrum). Sprint contends the heaviest data users consume a disproportionate share of network resources and that it has employed “fairness algorithms” on its CDMA and LTE networks.

What exactly is the data amount every month that a customer can use before being throttled? Sprint’s isn’t sure but they did say that if you use above 5 GB a month that it is “likely” that you will be throttled. But really, does anyone need certainty in their wireless plan after spending world-record amounts for their phone and voice/data plans?


How many GB’s that a customer uses has little-to-nothing to do with real world economics or network performance as they are tied to executive desire for improved quarterly earnings. By making wireless data more precious and therefore costly, the wireless carriers can offset expected losses in the future (i.e., SMS/Voice Revenue/Etc…).

Why was AT&T putting data caps on unlimited users at around 2 GB’s yet offered metered plans with data caps of 3 GB’s or more? Anyone remember AT&T’s “because we can” tethering fee? And I haven’t even discussed the fact that Validas, a mobile intelligence company, has found that Verizon unlimited users were using less data than users on metered plans.

Verizon Wireless Logo

Sprint already faces criticism for the slowest LTE speeds and highest latency scores among the four largest carriers. Sprint lays claim to the second lowest LTE speeds in the world, according to one study. Probably one of their biggest advantages was its truly unlimited network, and now that seems to be going out the window, too.

Sprint customers on unlimited plans: what do you think of Sprint’s plan to throttle down your speeds? Will you stick with the Now Network if they go ahead with their plans to throttle down your “unlimited” service?

  • Replicant Jason Booth

    This is very unfortunate… I used roughly thirty gigs last month… I’m screwed.

    • sturmen

      In this day and age, using 10+ GB per month is bordering on abuse. Were you torrenting or tethering?

      • Rob F

        Really? I get about at least 6gigs a month on reddit, 5 a month on YouTube, 5 on imgur.com, and 2-3 on Netflix. That’s a light month, it’s a lot easier to go through data then you think even without torrenting.

        • Chuck

          6 gig on Reddit?! Video streaming I understand, but Reddit? I use Reddit on daily basis and it never surpass 2 Gb. I watch tons of Netflix during my commute 2 hours on train my monthly data never goes beyond 10-12 Gb / month.

          At the end of the day, I think it’s the US mentality that if it’s unlimited, they’ll use as much as they can. It doesn’t help that the carrier is g greedy too, but it’s not helping if the users are abusing this.

      • Replicant Jason Booth

        Nah mostly streaming Netflix, YouTube.

      • smokebomb

        I average over 10GB without torrenting or tethering. I watch all my YouTube videos in HD and there’s a video podcast that auto downloads every day that comes in around half a gig because it’s an hour of HD video. Not to mention the 8 or 9 audio podcasts that auto download and come in around 100MB each. Right now I’m about half way through my current T-Mobile billing period and have clocked in at 6.8GB already. If I didn’t have WiFi at home I’d be at 32GB. Unlimited unthrottled data FTW!

  • packerrd

    Just because it’s throttling doesn’t mean it will no longer be unlimited

    • Anon1234

      “Sprint Truly Unlimited(TM) Data- No metering, no throttling, no overages.”

      So yeah, it will still be “unlimited” but it will no longer be “Sprint Truly Unlimited”.

      • Brian

        Right. Because that makes sense.

  • Luka Mlinar

    80 dollars a month? DA FUQ?!
    I pay something like 7 dollars a month here in Croatia. Americans are getting robed :D

    • Brandon Power
    • Nick

      Maybe after a few more hundreds of years, We’ll get your level, you crazy Croats.

      • Luka Mlinar

        I think it has to do with the American model of doing business. They make a monopoly (in this case companys getting together to fix the market price) and then overprice it. And in case someone else want’s to come in and brake that up, they get shut down in Washington. Same is with pharmaceuticals, god forbid you buy cheap in Mexico.
        From the outside looking in, America is the land of legalized corruption.

    • asd

      Trust me…in England there are some unlimited data plans for less than £20

  • Xavier

    Just as clearwire, it will block users on a daily basis. Not data caps, just to reduce congestion. For example, if someones usage is around what 10 regular users are consuming then would be throttled.

    Unlimited is never unlimited, but sprint should be more transparent and inform customers how and when they will be throttled.

  • Richard Darrington

    T mobile is where it’s at. I have unlimited lte and I love them. Plus they’re the ones shaking things up to keep things good for the customer. Pay your etf plus 14 days buyers remorse , what do you have to lose by trying.

    • Joseph McNeal Jr.

      Anyone knows if this will allow me get out of contract for either of my two lines with Sprint 1st line:”The Discontinued Everything 450 plan” 2nd Line:”Truly Unlimited Everything Plan”

  • Richard Darrington

    Yes it will allow you, they reimburse me for two of my lines from AT&T

  • Nick

    Verizon throttles? I routinely go over 20 GB a month, never noticed this.

    • Adrian187

      Verizon doesn’t throttle. The author of the article has never heard or doing research. I am in the same boat as you I use 20+GB per month and I’m never throttled.

  • suprafly

    And sprint want to buy t-mobile and throttle them as well.. Sprint is so pressing for a merger and this is how they do it. Never will go back to sprint.

  • adrian187

    This guy William Neilson is an idiot. Why is there a Verizon logo at the top of an article about Sprint.

  • Wedabus

    This is why i switched from Sprint to T-mobile. Geez man