Sprint Limits Unlimited Plan

All cellular carriers throw the word "Unlimited" around but every plan seems to have limits in the end. The latest carrier to redefine the word is Sprint. Under the guise of "Protecting the 97%" the carrier is going to throttle or slow down the top 3 percent who are downloading the most data. Its announcement sounds like an appeal to the Occupy Wall Street and Bernie Sanders populist crowd. But it still represents a change in terms that could apply to any and every customer. If your hotel doesn't have Wi-Fi or you are on a road trip and your kids want to watch a movie, maybe you'll hit that limit?


Sprint provides a breakdown of what 23 GB (the amount of downloaded data when they start throttling) and it seems like a lot. But if you watch a movie every day, that's over the limit. Apple's new Wi-Fi Assist feature reverts to cellular even when your iPhone is on Wi-Fi, if the Wi-Fi reception is poor, so users may not realize how much data they're using and it may be more than before iOS 9. The new Facebook app consumes more battery life in the background, apparently. Apps could download data in the background as well. The exact phrasing of the change is as follows. Notice Sprint even uses the word "occupy" to refer to the abusers (emphasis mine).

One way we aim to make the customer experience better is to protect against the possibility that a small minority of customers might occupy an unreasonable share of network resources. With that in mind, we are introducing a new Quality of Service (QoS) practice that applies to customers who choose an unlimited data handset plan launched Oct. 16, 2015, or after, or customers who choose to upgrade their handset on or after Oct. 16 and remain on an existing unlimited data plan. For these customers, if they use more than 23 GB of data during a billing cycle, they will be prioritized on the network below other customers for the remainder of their billing cycle, only in times and locations where the network is constrained. (These customers will still be able to use unlimited amounts of data without the worry of overage charges.)

Surely there are abusers in any such system, and Sprint feels  it needs to limit those who might be harming the network. But the real abuse is of the English language, specifically "Unlimited." As Mandy Patinkin's character said, in The Princess Bride, "You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means."

That Word

Top image credit: GongTo / Shutterstock.com

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Author Details

Todd Bernhard's picture

Author Details

Todd Bernhard

Todd Bernhard is a bestselling (6+ million downloads) award-winning (AARP, About.com, BestAppEver.com, Digital Hollywood, and Verizon) developer and founder of NoTie.NET, an app developer specializing in Talking Ringtone apps including AutoRingtone. And his profile photo is of the last known sighting of Mr. Bernhard wearing a tie, circa 2007!

An iPhone is almost always attached to his hip or in his pocket, but over the years, Mr. Bernhard has owned an Apple Newton, a Motorola Marco, an HP 95LX, a Compaq iPaq, a Palm Treo, and a Nokia e62. In addition to writing for iPhone Life, Mr. Bernhard has written for its sister publications, PocketPC Magazine and The HP Palmtop Paper.