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
    Greevar (profile), 5 Jun 2012 @ 12:18pm

    Re: Re: Slightly inaccurate

    Correct, data usage doesn't present a problem for an ISP, unless you've oversold your bandwidth. Bandwidth is like space in a room. ISP's rent out the space on their network so that you can have a path to get to the server you're trying to contact. You're paying for a spot to occupy on the network, so it shouldn't matter how much or often you use it. ISP's, however, tend to sell more spots than they actually have under the assumption that not everybody or very few will be using it 24/7. Others can occupy it while you're not, but that presents a problem that then the user can only occupy it if nobody else is. If the network is at full load, no new connections can be made, so they mitigate this by capping usage. They want to keep expanding their customer base. Since they don't have more slots to give out, they have to put limits on the existing slots. As more and more people subscribe, the limits get smaller and smaller.

    The dilemma isn't in the data usage, but in the ISP's unwillingness/inability to find new spectrum or use what they have more efficiently.

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