Mixed Messages From Sprint On EVDO Bandwidth

from the this-doesn't-quite-make-sense dept

Earlier this year, Sprint followed Verizon in tacking on a 5GB cap on its EVDO wireless broadband offering for computers (for either datacard or phone-as-modem users). Because of that, I find Sprint EVDO a lot less useful, and am actively looking for alternatives. Unfortunately, for now there aren't many, though I hope that will change. Either way, I end up using Sprint a lot less, and would be a lot more open to competitors. One of the reasons I stuck with Sprint for so long was the unlimited nature of the EVDO. Even if I don't use up 5GB, not worrying about reaching a limit used to be a huge benefit. Now, when I use EVDO, I feel like I need to carefully track what's happening -- since Sprint might cut off my service if my usage is deemed abusive.

Now, to make matters even more ridiculous, it appears that Sprint has signed a deal "valued at $500 million" to stream live football games over EVDO to its mobile phones. (Half a billion sounds like a big deal, but it doesn't actually mean $500 million was paid out -- it's likely much of it involves trades of promotion and services.) Now, the tricky part is that the 5GB cap on EVDO does not count towards content viewed just on phones, so Sprint is sending a very mixed message. First Sprint says that there isn't enough bandwidth on its network to support really unlimited usage for PC users, but then it's also coming up with ways to increase the amount of bandwidth its customers are using on phones. Does that mean Sprint doesn't care about PC users on its network -- and datacard users will be further squeezed as Sprint prefers its phone customers to use up the wireless bandwidth? Shouldn't Sprint focus on improving its network so that the bandwidth limits for PC users doesn't get worse rather than buying into deals to increase the bandwidth burden?


Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

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    Evil Mike, Nov 7th, 2008 @ 2:31pm

    Yes, they should.

    "Shouldn't Sprint focus on improving its network so that the bandwidth limits for PC users doesn't get worse rather than buying into deals to increase the bandwidth burden?"

    Yes, they should. However, I used to work for Sprint, and can tell you from first-hand insider experience: not gonna happen. They couldn't give a sh@t about easy, effective customer support. For the "Captains" of that particular industry, it's all about the almighty dollar.

     

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    Blatant Coward, Nov 7th, 2008 @ 3:08pm

    "First Sprint says that there isn't enough bandwidth on its network to support really unlimited usage for PC users"

    Gotta call bovine residue on this. If a careful look and audit is done by an outside source I believe all this "required" capping would be noted as the hooey it is, any carrier with a lick of sense in the past 5 years would be building their network to support 3 times the customers they have, and 4 times as much traffic each-to match their sales goals.

    Capping is just another way to squeeze a skosh more blood out of their turnips, you parsnip you.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Nov 7th, 2008 @ 3:13pm

    "Now, the tricky part is that the 5GB cap on EVDO does not count towards content viewed just on phones, so Sprint is sending a very mixed message"

    I'm confused.
    Does this mean that their cap only applies to content from other companies ?

     

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      Mike (profile), Nov 7th, 2008 @ 3:16pm

      Re:

      Does this mean that their cap only applies to content from other companies ?

      Cap applies to data accessed via a laptop.

      Not to data accessed via a phone.

       

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        Anonymous Coward, Nov 7th, 2008 @ 9:14pm

        Re: Re:

        Cap applies to data accessed via a laptop.

        Not to data accessed via a phone.
        Doesn't video accessed via the phone have to go through Sprint whereby they get a cut from the supplier as opposed to video accessed via laptop being available from others?

         

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          nasch, Nov 9th, 2008 @ 1:07pm

          Re: Re: Re:

          No, this is all data going through Sprint, it's their cellular network. The difference is whether the device using the data is a phone or not. Apparently it's counted as a PC even if the data goes through a phone first, though I haven't investigated.

           

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    Anonymous Coward, Nov 7th, 2008 @ 3:17pm

    Man... If I was a sprint customer...

    I'd just find a way to use the Unlimited phone data connection to tether my pc... I'd probably look at a simple registry change first...

     

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    Guy One, Nov 7th, 2008 @ 3:46pm

    Really?

    Sprint is still in business?

     

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    Wolferz (profile), Nov 7th, 2008 @ 6:48pm

    Uhm...

    Uhm... Mike... perhaps I'm wrong on this... but as a fellow Sprint data card user I took a great deal of interest in this when it all started.

    I have a friend who works for a third-party Sprint retailer who did the legwork for me and says he was assured through official channels that all existing users of the service would continue to receive unlimited service assuming they did not cancel and then attempt to restart their service.

    Again, this could be a lie told by sprint to a third party retailer. As an former employee of one such retailer I know it would certainly not be the first time. However, as I use mine for a significant amount of data (including torrent traffic and downloads of DVD Images (diagnostic boot disks and the like) I imagine I would have gone over this limit if it was there.

    I certainly understand the principle of the matter, especially considering my data needs, but I think in this is more of a case of "if the service isn't what you want look elsewhere" rather than "they changed it on me after I signed a contract and now I'm stuck paying for a service that is no good to me."

    Like I said, correct me if I'm wrong.

     

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      Xanius, Nov 8th, 2008 @ 6:48am

      Re: Uhm...

      I still work for sprint(for now) and it's not entirely a lie. You will still get unlimited until you renew your contract/buy a new device. But if you exceed the caps 2/3 months then they will send you a notice saying you're using too much, if you go over again they cancel you.

      They are releasing(or released already don't remember for certain) a new set of plans for the people that are new or renew that has overages at like $0.20/mb I think, so this is where the bleeding a customer dry comes in. It's not a matter of not having the bandwidth it's a matter of they're giving away ~$30million per month in credits and free phones and they are still bleeding customers. They want to try and force customers to pay more to recoup part of that loss, but it's only going to force people away.
      Similar to the new prorated ETF they put in place, to be eligible for it you have to either be a new customer as of 11/2 or renew your contract after that date. Any existing customer even one at 22 months still has to pay $200 to get out.

      Sprints execs have gotten wiser when it comes to contract changes, no longer will new things affect current subscribers, they make it part of renewal so that there's no material change of contract to allow current subscribers an easy out.

       

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    Brad, Nov 8th, 2008 @ 12:16am

    Really, it's because they keep shedding customers. My networks gets faster every person that leaves!

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Nov 8th, 2008 @ 12:53am

    If you do a little research...

    ... you will find that this only applies to a minority of the sprint population. Specifically, it applies to phone as modem and aircard users who don't have a vision plan, apparently.

    If you have a need for high-speed data, the best bet is to get a smartphone with a vision plan and use tethering. That's what I do and my contract terms still specify unlimited data.

     

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    Derek Kerton (profile), Nov 8th, 2008 @ 11:47am

    Unicast or Multicast?

    Mike,

    This means nothing until we know whether the football game will be unicast or multicast. If multicast, it means that no matter how many people view it, it consumes a set amount of resources on the network.

    If it is being multicast to multiple subscribers, then the bandwidth required starts to scale up fast.

    Further, carriers have often felt that "unlimited" data to a cell phone is a very different thing than "unlimited" data to a laptop. A cellphone is somewhat self-limiting. The majority of people would have a hard time pumping 5GB of data through their phone every month -- especially in an era when the cellphone company controls and sells you the phone (and so can limit what it can do). A laptop, in contrast, can easily pull a staggering amount of data in 30 days.

    So, I see no "mixed messages" from Sprint. It's a complex issue, and they have a complex service mix. It may be right, and it may be wrong, but it won't be simple.

     

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    Tom Hayden, Nov 9th, 2008 @ 12:18am

    Sprint's mixed messages

    Sprint is set to get some of the new bigwigs; the Touch Pro is just one example. It is a high end business phone and I don't think the clientele who purchase it will put up with a limit on the use of tethering. 5, 10, 20gb would not be enough. Unlimited is what we should be getting in 2008 specially at the prices for the different phones and plans. HTC would be better off to sell to the customer direct her in the US. We can then just add our sim cards and if the companies want to set a limit, there are ways around it.

     

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    Tom Hayden, Nov 9th, 2008 @ 12:18am

    Sprint's mixed messages

    Sprint is set to get some of the new bigwigs; the Touch Pro is just one example. It is a high end business phone and I don't think the clientele who purchase it will put up with a limit on the use of tethering. 5, 10, 20gb would not be enough. Unlimited is what we should be getting in 2008 specially at the prices for the different phones and plans. HTC would be better off to sell to the customer direct her in the US. We can then just add our sim cards and if the companies want to set a limit, there are ways around it.

     

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    Tom Hayden, Nov 9th, 2008 @ 12:18am

    Sprint's mixed messages

    Sprint is set to get some of the new bigwigs; the Touch Pro is just one example. It is a high end business phone and I don't think the clientele who purchase it will put up with a limit on the use of tethering. 5, 10, 20gb would not be enough. Unlimited is what we should be getting in 2008 specially at the prices for the different phones and plans. HTC would be better off to sell to the customer direct her in the US. We can then just add our sim cards and if the companies want to set a limit, there are ways around it.

     

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    TechNoFear (profile), Nov 9th, 2008 @ 9:44pm

    Aussie Telstra started this years ago...

    Telstra in Australia has 'broadband' plans starting at 400Mb and excess useage up to Au$500 / Gb for ADSL!

    Telstra also charges for uploads.

    Telstra offers a movie download service, crippled with DRM (so the movie can not be played after 48 hours). Telstra also offers sporting event through the major (only) pay TV company.

    These do not count towards your limit.

    This way Telstra has created the true walled internet garden, only dreamed of by other ISPs.

    Add to this that Telstra owns the only copper network in Australia (and will refuse to connect/repair/install at a whim).

    See the problem?

     

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    CUJC, Nov 10th, 2008 @ 6:08am

    Get real people!!!! Grow up!!!

    We don't have ANYTHING better to do than complain about a 5Gb limit that 99.95% of the customers will not ever reach. In fact, you could say 5Gb for 60 days and you'd still have 93.xx% of the customer base covered. They are forward thinking (finally) with data increasingly growing they don't want to get into a situation where you same 'self righteous - walk on water' types will be complaining of slow speeds or network bottlenecks.

    We (Verizon) were shocked to see them follow suit and were really banking on them letting it run wild and be another nail in their coffin later on. Statistically speaking, it was the least intrusive number to push on customers yet offering the best value in network planning for future offerings.

     

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    Rollie Cole (profile), Nov 10th, 2008 @ 1:38pm

    Sprint Limits vs Sprint Football

    The signal is NOT mixed; it is parental -- i.e.

    "You can have all the food I provide to you, but I am going to sharply limit your intake of what you choose for yourself."

    In this case, it is not for the good of the child/user but for the profit of the provider.

    Now, it may still be true that most kids are not seeking unreasonable amounts of un-parent food, and that the parents can more easily keep food spending within budget with this system.

     

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    prmass1, Nov 26th, 2008 @ 11:42am

    From the best deal to the one of the guys deal

    Its been almost 4 years since I have had sprint evdo rev(0) and then Rev(A). When I started sprint had the best deal and the best price. $60 flat a month and didn't required a cellphone account to get it unlike verizon. But now all good things must come to an end. This is a reversal of the aol flat fee which brought prodigy and compuserve to its knees. But $60+ is a good amount and I have been going over at least 6 months out of the year so here is my take. If sprint wants to go ahead and cancel me. I will not live with a meter running when it comes to the internet.

     

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    sbk93036 (profile), Jun 21st, 2009 @ 1:21am

    5GB? LOL.

    I use the Sprint service mainly for my graduate studies...discussion boards, submitting word documents, etc. However, I do like to check a couple non-media heavy sites that may have some graphics, etc. I go through 5 GB easily within a couple weeks. For those that say very few people even approach 5GB are full of it!!! PERIOD! Even my grandmother would at least approach, if not pass, 5GB. If you ONLY do text emails then you may be fine, but don't attach any pictures. This "only 3% of users even approach 5GB" BS is propaganda by the wireless companies. Anyone who thinks differently is a moron.

     

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