Sprint admits to throttling heavy data roamers and illegal tetherers [Updated]

Dan-hesseRemember this commercial? You know, the one that mocks the other three big carriers and claims that Sprint is the only carrier with truly unlimited data. Well, how do we reconcile these claims with a recent quote from Sprint CEO Dan Hesse that appeared in Dow Jones Newswire?

"For those that want to abuse it, we can knock them off," Hesse said at an investor conference Thursday. He said Sprint pares back data use for about 1% of users, a practice known as throttling.

Now before you get out your pitchforks, other news outlets are reporting that Hesse was referring more specifically to heavy data roamers: that's an important distinction to make, as Sprint has always had a fair-use policy in place for roaming data, which costs them a heck of a lot of money.

Additionally, CNET is reporting that Sprint doesn't throttle post-paid users at all. According to CNET, Hesse was actually referring to Sprint's prepaid divisions: Boost and Virgin Mobile. This means most G&E readers would be in the clear, but this also doesn't make much sense to me – doesn't Sprint only allow prepaid customers to use its native network? How could prepaid customers be roaming too much?

According Sprint executive Bill White, the only time a postpaid customer would be throttled is if they violate the terms and conditions of their contract by tethering without an official tethering plan: "Unlimited doesn't mean you can hook it up to a server farm."

So it sounds like Sprint has some more explaining to do. Are they just throttling prepaid users? Just users who roam too much? Just users who tether illegally? Personally, I'd be fine with throttling frequent roamers and people who download obscene amounts of data each month, as long as it keeps my own data reasonably cheap and unlimited. But in any case, I also want Sprint to be a bit more transparent about it.

How about you?

Update 1/06: Sprint has clarified Hesse's previous statements, and says that no postpaid customers are ever throttled.

[CNET | Nasdaq via TechCrunch]
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John F

John was the editor-in-chief at Pocketables. His articles generally focus on all things Google, including Chrome and Android, although his love of new gadgets and technology doesn't stop there. His current arsenal includes the Nexus 6 by Motorola, the 2013 Nexus 7 by ASUS, the Nexus 9 by HTC, the LG G Watch, and the Chromebook Pixel, among others.