Sprint Realizing That Data Caps Turn Customers Off

from the about-time dept

Back when Sprint joined other mobile carriers in issuing a 5 GB limit on its EVDO connection, I was among those who noted that it was disappointing that the company sold me an "unlimited" service, and then changed the terms on me unilaterally. It also changed the way I used my EVDO card, making it significantly less useful and valuable for me. I don't want to be thinking about how much data I'm using (and it was especially difficult without a detailed system of tracking how much data you were using). I remember once, while traveling, I accidentally left the EVDO connection running over night, and got worried that Sprint might cut me off. It's just not worth it, and I've actually been thinking about dumping Sprint once my contract is up.

Apparently, I wasn't alone in thinking this and Sprint has noticed. With its new WiMax network, it has stayed away from talking about any caps, and has now admitted that the reaction to the EVDO caps is part of the reason why. They're afraid that, just as they're trying to convince people to use the WiMax network, they'll get scared off by caps. The problem, of course, is that these mobile broadband providers are fighting against themselves on these things. They want to convince the world that these networks are useful -- and to do that, you have to show all the cool things that you can do with them. But, if they haven't really invested enough in the networks, they can actually run into some congestion problems, and so they can't encourage you to use them too much. Hopefully, the investment into WiMax (or, potentially moving on to LTE) will mean that such congestion problems are mostly a thing of the past, and that it's not worth implementing caps.

That said, Sprint's admission of how people responded to the EVDO caps should be a clear warning to ISPs that keep trying to implement broadband caps or metered broadband. Doing so imposes additional costs that you might not have considered, such as the mental transaction costs your users face in determining if it's even worth using your network. Of course, ISPs should know this already. We already have a detailed case study in that AOL only really took off after it switched from hourly billing to an unlimited flat-rate. Why some ISPs want to go back to make their product less valuable is beyond me.

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  1. identicon
    Benjamin, 8 Jul 2011 @ 8:21am

    Re: Re: Re: Re:

    Not really. Technolagy is always gonna be able to catch up therioedically. We evolved from 1g to 2g [talk and text] to 3g [data] to so called "4g" or [much faster data to accomidate for larger data demand] Sprint was very smart to innovate and build Wi max so they COULD offer unlimited data. Its so fast that they can offer unlimited data, becaue there is little fear of overloading, theres so much bandwith. BTW Verizon LTE would barely be faster than Wi Max at their theriedical max. Therioedically, Verizon can do 100 mbps. Wimax at 88 or 92 or 96 mbps [i might be getting HSPA+ mixed in there its slowed than the rest]. Thats theriedically. 3g is obsolete. Technolagy evolved to accomodate our needs that would have been hard to imagine when 3g was at its height. Technology could evolve it to 1000 mbps. I dont see why not. And I bet it will when 4g reaches its peak in its ability to support us.
    Your idea of rationing data to help other users is not a good idea. It would be limiting our ability to do everything thats possible on our phones. Limiting what our phones can do is a step backwards. If we were stuck with 3g, and there was no "4g" technology available. Do you think that we would have all the features that our smartphones have today? If anything, the fact that our phones are using more data is because now their downloading higher definition movies. or Better quality songs. Or Higher quality wallpapers. The fact that calls take more bandwith mean our call quality is improving. BUT. Just the way we can support our increasing data appetite, technology can advance to the point where we use less data, and still get the same results.
    The idea of carriers rationing data would be very ignorant and stupid when its really technolagy that they should be pushing. Thats like rationing rain when our local water resoviour is depleting. Its unnessessary, and its not the way foward, its only a short term solution.
    Companies invest alot of time and money onresearch to make data towers with more technologically advance so they can have larger bandwiths and more range. Where do you think Wimax and Hspa+ and LTE came from. There will be more.
    I think sprint was smart enough to build wimax up because they figured out that the more bandwitch our network can allow, the more data our smartphones can use. The more features a phone has, the more data it will use. Since they can handle the extra data, they can market the phone with extra features. That could be GPS, streaming movies, radio, sending pictures, accessing internet on the go.
    THE phone with extra features is ... overall... BETTER. The Htc Evo was revolutionary, and only now have phones like the thunderbolt and Inspire on other networks have been able to come out, nearly a year after!
    ALSO one last thing to remember, these are busniesses. They will only go above and beyond to get ahead of their competators, and when the market demands it. That means that if 4g is fast enough to support all the data increases for the next 20 years, then no company is gonna spend the money to invest in a better network. Simple as that. Am i right?

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