Is Sprint throttling Skype without telling its subscribers? This app suggests it's so

Is Sprint throttling Skype without telling its subscribers? This app suggests it's so
A study that is being conducted by Northeastern University and the University of Massachusetts happens to be the subject of a report in Motherboard. Based on data compiled by the two universities, Sprint is cutting subscriber's data speeds when they use Microsoft's Skype app. And the most devious part of the whole thing is that the nation's fourth largest carrier isn't even alerting its subscribers about the throttling.

David Choffnes, assistant professor of computer and information science at Northeastern has come up with the numbers using the Wehe app that he developed. Wehe, which we told you about earlier this year, helps mobile device users discover if some of the apps they use are being throttled by their wireless provider. Now that net neutrality has been repealed by the FCC, and its return as legislation in some states is being challenged in court by the FCC, it could be useful to know which apps you use are being streamed in a slow lane by your carrier. Net neutrality required that all streaming content be treated the same by ISPs and wireless operators.

Choffnes discovered after 719,417 tests conducted by 100,000 users across 135 countries, that wireless carriers often throttle streaming content in order to upsell subscribers to pricier monthly plans. While some carriers deny this and claim that throttling only occurs during periods of network congestion, many of these providers throttle video to 480p with an unlimited plan unless customers are willing to pay up for a higher resolution.

The Northeastern assistant professor discovered that between Sprint and its pre-paid Boost Mobile brand, subscribers' use of Skype was throttled 34% of the time between January 18 and October 15. The data also indicated that Sprint's reduction of data speed for Skype has nothing to do with network congestion. And while Skype video calls might appear to be streamed at a lower quality, there is nothing written on any Sprint or Boost documentation that would alert customers to the throttling of Skype video streams.
 
Before net neutrality was repealed, carriers were allowed to slow down data speeds when their networks were congested, and they had to be transparent about it. While the FCC would prefer that the wireless operators remain transparent, this is something that is now voluntary on the part of the carrier. So Choffnes and other developers are hoping that apps like Wehe can provide crowdsourced data to help show the public which carriers are throttling certain apps.

For its part, Sprint denied throttling Skype when approached by Motherboard.


Choffnes continues to stand by his findings and remains confident that Sprint customers are having their Skype video streams throttled by the wireless provider.

Data from the Wehe app reveals that Sprint is throttling its subscribers' Skype video streams

Data from the Wehe app reveals that Sprint is throttling its subscribers' Skype video streams

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8 Comments

1. darkkjedii

Posts: 30830; Member since: Feb 05, 2011

Sprints been talking to Apple I see, with that throttling BS.

2. Dr.Phil

Posts: 2293; Member since: Feb 14, 2011

And it’s just Skype being singled out? I mean that’s weird considering I don’t know anyone that uses Skype anymore. Everyone I know uses FaceTime or WhatsApp or even Snapchat and Facebook to video call.

4. mootu

Posts: 1408; Member since: Mar 16, 2017

In business Skype is the dominant video calling tool, mainly because almost every business uses Windows in one form or another.

6. deewinc

Posts: 455; Member since: Feb 21, 2013

This is true. I'm in affiliate marketing and all affiliate marketing platforms that I work for use Skype for communication with partners and account managers.

3. Soundjudgment

Posts: 370; Member since: Oct 10, 2016

And come January or Feb... T-Mobile will permanently throttle Sprint.

5. perry1234

Posts: 630; Member since: Aug 14, 2012

Should not have repealed net neutrality in the first place. Totally unfair and du*b move.

7. Feanor

Posts: 1315; Member since: Jun 20, 2012

Why is this even news? After net neutrality is repealed, the carrier's can throttle whatever they want and give no explanation. You rip what you sow.

8. tokuzumi

Posts: 1821; Member since: Aug 27, 2009

I'm pretty sure this is the normal speed at which the Sprint network operates

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