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