Sprint’s Data Isn’t So Unlimited Anymore

Sprint ends their unlimited data plans.

According to CNET, Sprint will slow down the heaviest users of unlimited data.

“Starting Friday, the nation’s fourth-largest wireless operator will begin ‘throttling,’ or slowing down, the connection speed for its heaviest unlimited-data customers, the company said.”

CNET adds that customers won’t see a data slowdown until they hit 23GB in a month. That’s a lot. And while one may scuff at the thought of Sprint doing this, it’s completely understandable. It used to be that companies made more money off of voice minutes than data. That has reversed — at least in the past three or four years.

Sprint has been known for its “unlimited data” plans, but there have been a lot of critics. I’ve heard people repeatedly say this: “What’s the point of unlimited data if it doesn’t work?” After the release of the iPhone 4s in 2011, I would have to agree with them. Sprint brought in several new subscribers with their unlimited data plan, but didn’t have the network capacity to handle all the extra users. Computer World reported on the issue in October of 2011.

“Slow performance on the Sprint network with the new iPhone 4S has led customers to consider returning the Apple devices before Friday, when Sprint’s early termination fee of up to $350 will take effect.”

At the time, I lived in Costa Mesa, CA. The slowdown was real. At times, I was getting speeds that were similar to the dial-up days of the mid-1990s. Sprint worked on their networks and I personally saw how they were adding towers all over the place.

Don't have unlimited data? You can go to just about any Starbucks for high-speed Wi-Fi.

Unfortunately, Sprint’s launch of their 4G LTE network during the fourth quarter of 2012 was another setback. At the time, I lived in Los Angeles. The 4G LTE network would always switch back to 3G and vice versa. This would cause web pages to stop loading and even phone calls to drop. It became such an annoyance that I eventually switched to T-Mobile in 2013. I have never looked back.

T-Mobile will likely put a cap on its unlimited data too — very soon. They have to in order to survive. Then again, I just can’t imagine using 23GB of data a month, unless you are constantly downloading torrents. The most data I have ever used was 15GB in July of 2014, when I was away from home and wasn’t staying at a place that had a strong WiFi connection.

The caps on unlimited mobile data shouldn’t bother people; high-speed Wi-Fi networks are everywhere now. Most Starbucks locations have Google high-speed Wi-Fi and malls all over the country now have high-speed Wi-Fi. Just remember to turn on the Wi-Fi connection on your phone before you are throttled or, with some some carriers, charged a lot more.

About Daryl

Daryl Deino has been a technology enthusiast since 1995 and has written for several newspapers and technology sites. Please reach him at [email protected]
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