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Sprint Changes 'Unlimited' Broadband To 5 Gigs... While Still Advertising Unlimited Broadband

from the that's-not-unlimited dept

I've actually been one of the few satisfied Sprint customers for many years. Over the past few years, they were the only mobile broadband provider who didn't limit mobile broadband to ridiculously low plans like 5 gigs per month, like other carriers. In fact, this was a key selling point, and one of the reasons why I happily stuck it out with Sprint. I know Wall St. analysts have been insisting that Sprint would need to cap such broadband usage at some point, but it seemed like a really short-sighted idea, since the unlimited broadband is really about the only facet of a Sprint account that makes it more appealing than its competitors. And so... of course... it appears to be going away. Here's the email I recently received concerning my "phone as modem" option, which I use often enough:

Basically, with no warning, effective immediately, Sprint has unilaterally changed our deal from one where I was paying for unlimited data via the phone as a modem -- to one where it's capped at a stupidly low 5GB. And, the company even has the gall to then happily tell me (below the screenshot cut off) that this change won't impact how much I pay -- as if I should have expected them to increase the fees while taking away a feature I like.

Considering that unlimited mobile broadband was not only part of the marketing pitch, but also a big part of the reason for why I signed up for the plan I did, this certainly seems like a bait-and-switch deal... and I'd thought that bait-and-switch deals like this were violations of FTC rules, but what do I know?

Of course, on a whim, I wondered if Sprint's marketing had changed... and I did a quick search on "Sprint unlimited broadband" and turned up the following advertisement:


If you can't see it clearly -- it appears Sprint is still advertising unlimited mobile broadband -- highlighting that you can "avoid the data dilemma" and "get truly Unlimited data." Except, um, that's clearly not the case. Changing your plans unilaterally for those who specifically signed up for unlimited broadband is one thing. But continuing to advertise such plans while limiting them and -- even worse, effectively mocking such limited plans -- is simply adding rather obnoxious insult to injury. Sorry Sprint, but you may have finally convinced me it's time to explore other options.

Filed Under: advertising, bait and switch, broadband, data caps, ftc, wireless
Companies: sprint


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  1. icon
    Rikuo (profile), 5 Jun 2012 @ 11:47am

    Re:

    The connection from your PC to your phone is strictly local signal - there's no involvement with your ISP at all. Wifi is the preferred method for PCs and phones to talk to each other, more than likely because its far easier and cheaper for either yourself or the PC manufacturer to equip Wifi functionality than it is 4G.
    When tethering, your PC is connected to the phone (local Wifi signal) and the phone is connected to your ISP (4G signal). You on your PC fire up your browser, type in a web site, and your PC tells your phone to get the data for that page. The phone then requests that data from the ISP and receives it, then fires it back at the PC.
    The situation is ENTIRELY the same if you weren't tethering. There is no difference whatsoever on the ISP end if you're tethering or not: its still a phone asking them for data. So when they charge you extra for tethering, they're not recouping any costs at all. Its pure profit.

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