When AT&T and Verizon first announced that they were offering new phone upgrade plans, people rejoiced. Then customers saw the actual plans and many noted what a bad deal it was for consumers looking to save money. This caused both wireless providers to make pretty substantial changes to the upgrade program over the next few months.
Now, Sprint has released their own plan with some questionable strings attached to it. Yesterday, Sprint announced a “cut your wireless bill in half” deal for those looking to switch to Sprint from AT&T or Verizon. But as Ars Technica points out, Sprint’s new “cut your wireless bill in half” deal is essentially a customer agreeing to let Sprint throttle you whenever, wherever and however they want.
Besides paying off your early termination fee, Sprint said it would “provide unlimited talk and text… and match the customer’s data allowance for half the cost they are currently paying for their monthly rate plan.” Look past the headline of the press release to the fine print and you’ll find what Sprint calls a usage limitation: “Other plans may receive prioritized bandwidth availability. To improve data experience for the majority of users, throughput may be limited, varied or reduced on the network.” – Ars Technica
Essentially, rather than simply throttling those “unlimited data plan” users during heavy usage times, Sprint may throttle these new users whenever they want to make sure their network is fine for other customers.
Sprint already struggles from a wireless network that is known as the worst of the major carriers. In fact, as this site noted recently, Sprint just finished as the worst ranked wireless carrier in 2014 according to Consumer Reports. Although this deal may be good for those who don’t use very much data, it will continue a negative trend of customers coming to Sprint and dealing with substantial network issues.
Update: Sprint reached out to me to note that the language is similar to language found in other plans.
The language with regard to throughput may be limited, varied or reduced on the network refers to Sprint’s network management policies and is intended to allow Sprint to reduce network congestion and provide a good user experience for a majority of Sprint users. This language was introduced earlier this year and is referenced in other Sprint plans as well – it is not unique to the Cut Your Rate in Half plans. Sprint is committed to fairly allocating network resources in times of congestion so that the majority of users are not prevented from using the network. Additional details on Sprint network management policies can be found at www.sprint.com/networkmanagement.Sprint doesn’t throttle customers. With throttling, when you hit the applicable data threshold, your data speed is reduced for your entire cycle, 100% of the time, no matter where you are. We use reasonable network management practices to ensure the best possible wireless experience to the vast majority of our customers, regardless of plan. During times of congestion, speed may be reduced for the heaviest data users – the top 5 percent – whose heavy data use may cause a negative experience for the remaining 95% of users. However, this may occur only if connected to a congested cell site, during a time of congestion. Once you connect to a non-congested site, or the congested site is becomes no longer congested, your speed will return to normal. Any impact to your data experience may last as little as a matter of seconds or hours, depending on your location and time of day.