Are Sprint data plans really unlimited? Yes, says Sprint.

Yesterday, Sprint CEO Dan Hesse made comments that suggested that the company throttles the top 1% of its customers who use the most mobile data. That was in direct contradiction to the massive ad campaign that Sprint has used since 2010 to say that its ”Truly Unlimited” plan is truly unlimited.

After a number of blog posts stemming from a Dow Jones Newswire story that first spotted the comments, Sprint has clarified that it does not throttle anyone accounting for heavy traffic data on its network. The key phrase there being on Sprint’s network. The only people who experience policing, according to Sprint, are those who are roaming or in rural areas and “abuse” the system by reaching excessive levels. There’s no clarity on what qualifies as excessive.

Here’s the full statement refuting claims that it throttles users.

Reports that Sprint throttles the top one percent of data users are false. Here are the facts:

• Sprint does not throttle any postpaid phone data users for on-network or off-network usage. Sprint is the only national carrier offering smartphone users truly unlimited data with no throttling, metering or overages while on the Sprint network.

• Sprint does have terms and conditions which prohibit certain types of data use that may impair other customers’ usage or harm or interfere with the network. At yesterday’s investor conference, Sprint CEO Dan Hesse was referring to Sprint’s right to terminate service of data abusers who violate Sprint’s terms and conditions. Customers who abuse our network by violating the terms and conditions will be contacted by Sprint in an effort to have the customer change their usage to comply with their subscriber agreement. Customers who do not change their usage and remain in violation of the terms and conditions may be subject to actions reserved by Sprint, including but not limited to termination. Consistent with our advertising, engaging in such uses will not result in throttling for customers on unlimited data-included plans for phones.

There have been multiple occasions that while tethering at events, I have used more than 20 gigs of data, and never faced any issues or warnings from Sprint. I was always on WiMax or 3G, so I would not have fallen into the abuse categories as outlined by Sprint. The question is…how high would I have to go on Sprint’s network before the definition of abuse is stretched to include on-network data?

At the moment, there doesn’t appear to be an on-the-record glass ceiling for that to happen.

Sprint via AllThingsD

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