Top 5% of Sprint's unlimited users could be throttled starting next month

Top 5% of Sprint's unlimited users could be throttled starting next month
Postpaid Sprint customers, along with pre-paid users on its Boost and Virgin Mobile brands, have received notification about Sprint's plan to use data "prioritization management" starting next month. That is a fancy term, that in plain language means that the carrier will start to throttle the data speeds of its heaviest users, in the most congested areas.

The idea is for Sprint to allow everyone in a particularly congested part of its network, to receive high quality data at the same time. Once a heavy data-using customer is no longer in the affected region, or the traffic in a congested area returns to normal, the customer's device will revert back to normal data speeds. A Sprint spokesman said that the carrier isn't being slammed with increased usage overnight, adding that this is a problem that has been getting worse over time, and will continue to be a problem as more people use complex mobile applications.

On the Sprint, Boost Mobile and Virgin Mobile FAQ web sites, Sprint notes that the heaviest data users are consuming more than their fair share of bandwidth. The mobile operator explains how it uses an algorithm on its CDMA and LTE networks to "dynamically allocate available bandwidth in a way that is fair to all users."

While the top 5% of data consumers are being targeted here, that group is constantly changing. As a result, if you're not sure if you are in the top 5% of Sprint data users, there is a quick and dirty rule of thumb. According to Sprint, those who use 5GB of data or more in any given month, will probably be part of the affected group. "Customers that continue to fall within the top 5 percent of data users will continue to be subject to prioritization," Sprint said.

But sometimes, those consuming a much smaller amount of data could fall within the top 5% of a smaller region. You might recall that AT&T had throttled speeds for the top 5% of users in certain regions. But when AT&T's unlimited customers started to get throttled after consuming just 2GB of data, the mobile operator had to make changes to its plan.

Boost and Virgin customers who exceed 2.5GB of data usage will have their speed throttled down to 128Kbps. Boost has added a $60 monthly plan that includes 5GB of data before throttling. Customers of both pre-paid services can make a payment to top off their account, and re-start their monthly billing cycle if they want to avoid the slower speeds.

source: FierceWireless



1. Jommick

Posts: 221; Member since: Sep 10, 2013

So you can have unlimited data, just not too much of it?

40. lsutigers

Posts: 832; Member since: Mar 08, 2009

Dude, some of these data abusers are using upwards of 100GB+ of data /month. Wireless spectrum is a finite resource and there is only so much to go around. It is not meant to be used as your primary ISP which is what many are doing by tethering every wireless device they own on a single cell connection.

42. Fallout09

Posts: 421; Member since: Oct 17, 2011

I don't know how they can use that much data.... my data coverage is horrible at best. I have to move from WiFi to WiFi in Charlotte for almost a year now. It has been getting worse and worse everyday. I have been patient with Sprint for a while now because I knew the end game of Project Vision but I am near my breaking point.

2. rdaex

Posts: 152; Member since: Oct 24, 2012

Sooooo... no change from current speeds? Got it.

6. grahaman27

Posts: 364; Member since: Apr 05, 2013

Its a matter of going .02mbps to .01mbps. I'd be ticked if I were still a sprint customer, but for other reasons lol.

31. Doakie

Posts: 2478; Member since: May 06, 2009

So the 5% of customers lucky enough to have a LTE signal are going to get throttled.... Sprints network seriously only provided me 50-200 Kbps here in Seattle, totally unusable data in Waikiki I couldn't even send a Hangouts message and roaming on Verizon in Disneyland. Sprint is garbage.

3. rdaex

Posts: 152; Member since: Oct 24, 2012

Alternatively: In other news: we have found the most patient 5% of people on earth!

30. Doakie

Posts: 2478; Member since: May 06, 2009


4. jaytai0106

Posts: 1888; Member since: Mar 30, 2011

So they sold you a plan that was truly unlimited but then comes around and say sorry, you used too much data and we are going to slow you down now.

7. grahaman27

Posts: 364; Member since: Apr 05, 2013

T-Mobile throttles too.

11. tech23

Posts: 14; Member since: Dec 22, 2012

1gb with mobile hotspot ,speed will slow down after 1gb FREE 3gb with mobile hotspot ,speed will slow down after 3gb $10 5gb with mobile hotspot ,speed will slow down after 5gb $20 Or truly unlimited data with 5gb mobile hotspot $30

12. ErenJaeger

Posts: 119; Member since: Apr 22, 2014

I miss the $20 unlimited, no throttle data. I was too late for the offer. I wish i could get it.

23. PapaSmurf

Posts: 10457; Member since: May 14, 2012

That's what I have. :')

13. jaytai0106

Posts: 1888; Member since: Mar 30, 2011

I have AT&T family share 10GB plan and even with me streaming video about 1 hrs of content a day while I commute to work. I only used about 5GB of data o.O I still don't know how can that many people used that much data.

36. bigdawg23

Posts: 467; Member since: May 25, 2011

I am with you. I had AT&T unlimited data and never got throttled. I moved to the Family 10GB when it launched and dropped by bill $50 a month. I stream like you do and cant touch 10GB. I travel and go out of my way. It makes me wonder if the uses complaining about Unlimited Throttling tether their laptops and don't pay for home internet. How someone can use 20-60GB on a phone is mind boggling.

39. jaytai0106

Posts: 1888; Member since: Mar 30, 2011

I think those people do use tether for their home internet usage. Might as well go with Net 10 or something alike to get unlimited data to tether. Nevertheless, personally I think 10 GB is way more than I need for now :D

5. joe1blue

Posts: 169; Member since: Jul 25, 2013

I just left sprint for t-mobile and I have to say how can anyone use a lot of data on sprints slow ass network it took me so long just to load a simple Web page and it was impossible to play a YouTube video so I have to ask how are these people using more than 5GB of data unless you know how to force roam onto Verizon's network If I wasn't able to get on wifi then I often gave up on whatever website I was trying to load.

8. grahaman27

Posts: 364; Member since: Apr 05, 2013

Yeah I went from sprint to at&t and thought I would never use over 2GB of data... Then I got at&t and realized how wrong I was.

17. downphoenix

Posts: 3165; Member since: Jun 19, 2010

Sprint's Terms and Conditions only allows 100mb of data roaming a month. So if they were forcing roaming on Verizon, they would also have to simultaneously dupe Sprint into thinking it's their data they're using instead of Verizon's and also dupe Verizon into thinking that they are on Verizon. Quite a feat to do, since otherwise they'll get the boot.

25. theBankRobber

Posts: 682; Member since: Sep 22, 2011

If your in a LTE or Spark area such as me then using internet at speeds up to 60Mbps can easily add up. But myself I watch 30 mins of Netflix everyday at lunch and only manage 3.4gigs a month. Depends on your area and by the lack of your education I can see how to think Sprint is just a slow network.

32. Doakie

Posts: 2478; Member since: May 06, 2009

You're lucky. You're in the top 5% that'll be throttled. Sprints network is crap. It's been crap everywhere I've traveled... Your experience is what people call anecdotal and it doesn't have any bearing on what happens elsewhere. I understand mine is anecdotal too, but at least the hemorrhaging of customers reenforces my claims...

41. lsutigers

Posts: 832; Member since: Mar 08, 2009

Yes but all you do is bash Sprint while they are in the middle of a full network rebuild from the ground up. Im not going to argue whether that was a good decision to take on such a massive project at once but the reality is that in upgraded markets their network is performing much better and not anecdotal. Sprint has millions of business/enterprise/government customers, including our company and the service works great and that is using non Spark devices and thy are not completely finished with the network. I understand you were bitter at one point about it but jut stop bashing in every single article, you sound like a broken record. Bro, we get it, you don't like Sprint.

10. ez31k

Posts: 45; Member since: Jan 10, 2012

Well, if anyone couldn't find an excuse to get release from their contract, this is as good enough as ever. Sprint will lose out on the customers that wanted a truly unlimited despite the slow network to companies that already have a throttle implimented and a better network. Good Job D*cks, you are now T-Mobile minus the Network.

14. joe1blue

Posts: 169; Member since: Jul 25, 2013

thanks for mentioning that I totally missed it now I got a perfect excuse to get off this contract

15. Mxyzptlk unregistered

Not a good way to keep customers sprint.

16. MrRansom12

Posts: 3; Member since: Nov 13, 2013

Glad I am not under contract with them. I will take a little throttle however if this becomes like 2G speeds, I will find another carrier. I signed up for lifetime unlimited data and thats what I want, it shouldn't be throttled either, how about upgrade the network?

24. PapaSmurf

Posts: 10457; Member since: May 14, 2012

They just upgraded their network lol.

19. true1984

Posts: 865; Member since: May 23, 2012

aww crap, i used a lttle over 15gb last month...

22. Planterz

Posts: 2120; Member since: Apr 30, 2012

I think you'll be OK. I'm with T-Mobile, and I used over 300gb last month. I doubt 15gb would place you in the top 5%.

20. Planterz

Posts: 2120; Member since: Apr 30, 2012

And John Legere snickers...

Latest Stories

This copy is for your personal, non-commercial use only. You can order presentation-ready copies for distribution to your colleagues, clients or customers at or use the Reprints & Permissions tool that appears at the bottom of each web page. Visit for samples and additional information.