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PETITION: No 5GB cap for PAM and Aircards! Keep the unlimited data unlimited!


PETITION: No 5GB cap for PAM and Aircards! Keep the unlimited data unlimited!

Sprint has always been a leader, if not the leader, in providing wireless data service. One reason for this is their policy on unlimited data- When you pay your $60/mo (which is a lot of money) for an unlimited data plan, it's actually unlimited, as in there's not a limit, which means you can use it as much as you want without worrying about hitting a limit, because it's unlimited.

This relatively simple concept was for quite some time lost on Verizon, which imposed all kinds of hidden limits on their 'unlimited' service. This ended up being a costly mistake.

Many customers, including myself, choose Sprint's unlimited data service over Verizon or AT&T because it is free of such restrictions, either on how much it is used or what it is used for. As a freedom-loving American, I will always prefer a service that offers more freedom than the competition. I personally don't use anywhere near 5GB, but I still chose Sprint due to the unlimited data policy.

However, according to an Official Statement relayed by wengla02:

@wengla02 wrote:

...We are placing a limit of 300 MB per month on the amount of data use allowed while roaming off network as well as a 5 GB per month limitation on total wireless data usage for Sprints connection and phone as modem plans. This limit is well within the range of what a typical customer would normally use each month.

We are taking extensive efforts to make customers aware of the new limits and give them ample opportunity to change their usage habits before exploring any available options under the terms and conditions.

(note- don't shoot the messenger. Will was just relaying the message, as far as I know he doesn't like this policy either. If anything I appreciate the fast response from Will and Sprint Corporate, even though I disagree with what they have to say)

In short, Sprint has decided to end this policy and impose a 5GB limit on all Aircard (sprint data card, usb adapter, etc) and PAM (phone-as-modem) plans. In addition to the 5GB cap, each user will be limited to no more than 300MB of off-network roaming (on verizon alltel etc).
To be fair- this ONLY applies to PAM and aircard plans, not usage from the phone itself. However hitting 5GB/mo on a phone is hard, as an example you'd have to listen to streaming music for 86 hours straight (128kbit/sec stream not considering overhead) to hit 5GB. And as far as I know if you come close to 5GB on a phone they will send you a letter accusing you of using it for PAM without paying.

As a customer, as a user, and as someone who's generally been a Sprint fan, I say THIS CAP IS A HUGE MISTAKE. A few reasons why (but certainly not a complete list):

1. Many Sprint customers (including those like myself who use far less than 5GB/mo) chose Sprint because of its enlightened data policies. Removing those policies and instituting a cap removes a large incentive for us to stay. Given that such a large change of the service TOS would undoubtedly provide an opportunity to leave without ETF (and I could see a lawsuit if it didn't), many customers are going to leave over this. Many of those who leave are the 'good users' who use far less than 5GB/mo. Note that this is a simple fact, not a personal threat to take my account elsewhere.

2. Dan Hesse's TV ad for Unlimited Access talks about how nice it is to use features 'without worrying about the meter running'. I couldn't agree more. However this policy is directly contrary to Dan's statement. When taken together from a consumer's point of view, it brings the credibility of that ad (and to some degree Dan himself) into serious question on one hand he's going on TV talking about no meters running and on the other hand he's setting up new meters where there were none. Actions speak louder than words. In short, expect a lot of bad press over this, it's already starting. Read engadgetmobile, Consumerist, gizmodo etc. One publication had previously compared various 3G offerings and chose Sprint specifically due to their policies, and in announcing this change stated that they'd have to reconsider their position.

3. T-Mobile is just starting their 3G service. So far as I know, there isn't going to be any limits on that. In the words of Their CEO:

@T-Mobile Chief Executive Hamid Akhavan wrote:

T-Mobile not sitting on the sidelines saying let them have a nice transition, we have been feeding on these guys. Every customer we lose to them we get three in return.

Maybe I'm missing something but it would seem to me Sprint would want to do anything it could to reverse that trend. Tilting the table in (anyone else's) favor doesn't seem the way to do that.
On that same thread, Sprint continues to hemorrhage subscribers. Truly unlimited data is one of the relatively unique things Sprint has going for it. Perhaps if a Sprint ad highlighted all the restrictions in Verizon's contract, they might steal back some subscribers.

4. As another user said oh so perfectly,

@Ardoreal wrote:

Bummer guys, you can do better than this can't ya? It's like saying "all other carriers SUCK, so let's suck too"

5. Dan Hesse said he has a bag full of 'nukes' to drop on the wireless industry.

Dan Hesse:
Hesse says he's made no final decision about unlimited calling, but he also makes it clear that he's going to do what it takes to differentiate Sprint from AT&T and Verizon Wireless.
"If we can't be different, we can't win," he says flatly.
I couldn't agree more, Dan. But trying to be same as the competition, adopting their unpopular policies, isn't going to help you win.

6. After losing so many subscribers, I HIGHLY doubt Sprint is having trouble with network capacity. Besides this has never been a problem before, why now?

7. Technical people (nerds/geeks/techies/etc) will generally use more bandwidth than non-techies, because we do more than web and email. There are also more non-techies than geeks in our population. So it's easy to look at 'average usage' and see one particular lifestyle represented. However you must also take into account that many of those techies are advisors to several non-techies when it comes to matters like cell phones. I personally have recommended Sprint to several friends and family members, and talked a few others out of leaving when they were mad at Sprint's bad customer service.
Policies like this will alienate the highly technical users who are more likely to run afoul of bandwidth caps, or who disagree with it on principle (like myself). It may not be represented in the database, but losing those guys may have a secondary effect of other nontechnical users adopting different carriers on the advice of their resident geeks.

8. New rich media applications are coming online every day. Video chat, YouTube, streaming radio, Slingbox, those are just a few. Bandwidth caps will cause users of such services to constantly 'watch the meter' and feel guilty about using them, and if you can't use it why bother having it? In short, a bandwidth cap makes the service FAR less appealing to both high and low bandwidth users.

9. And this is perhaps the most important reason of all: As paying Sprint customers, this is not what we want. Presumably giving the customers what they want is the way to make them happy, and thus increase sales? Just a thought.

I'm not saying Sprint should laugh and do nothing about the guy who runs BitTorrent maxing out his aircard 24/7. The current TOS already prohibits such things. But a 5GB cap is absurd. It's a bad strategy, it's a bad policy, it's customer-unfriendly, and it's a mistake.

So I and the undersigned say simply, DO NOT DO THIS.
Keep the unlimited internet unlimited.

147 REPLIES 147

Re: PETITION: No 5GB cap for PAM and Aircards! Keep the unlimited data unlimited!

Ironhelix, I agree with you and would like to add my name to that petition of yours, if only because of principle.

And if I can add a point...

John Garcia did admit that Sprint wanted to be first, better, and different (in essence, adopt the old Nextel and Tim Donahue mantra). Noble concept to adopt. However, given this latest Sprint concept of capping data at a 5GB limit, it violates all of the tenants of the Nextel mantra:

1. Be first - Sprint was first in offering UNLIMITED data, but now it's 3rd in capping their data services.

2. Be better - Verizon offers the same EVDO rev A data speeds as Sprint, with the same data cap, at the same price. So much for Sprint trying to be better.

3. Be different - Hmmmm. Sprint was different by being the only national carrier to give unlimited 3G data services. Now, they'll be the same as AT&T and Verizon, but with a smaller footprint.

Seems to me, instead of being first, better, and different, Sprint is trying to be 3rd, to be ordinary, and to be the same as the rest. Last I checked, being identical as AT&T and Verizon without having their decent to stellar reputation is a recipe for diaster. Sprint, if this policy doesn't change back to truly be again unlimited, then I hope this company goes bankrupt very soon.


Re: PETITION: No 5GB cap for PAM and Aircards! Keep the unlimited data unlimited!

I was a prospective customer for mobile broadband. No way will I even think about doing it now.

Sprint Product Ambassador

Re: PETITION: No 5GB cap for PAM and Aircards! Keep the unlimited data unlimited!

Outstanding post.  Great job, IronHelix.  Thank you.


I'm pushing this up and down the ladder inside Sprint.


(+1 for no cap, or if there's a cost problem, a *real* unlimited data plan.) 

Product Ambassador, long time Sprint employee

Re: PETITION: No 5GB cap for PAM and Aircards! Keep the unlimited data unlimited!

<p>Glad you liked it Smiley Happy. Personally I think it's a bit on the long side, but I wanted to get a lot of points in...</p><p></p><p>Personally I doubt there's a real problem at the moment, but if there is here's a suggestion- rework the tiered pricing structure for datacards to open up the low end market while simultaneously monetizing the high end users.</p><br><br><p>$40/mo- 500MB, $1/mb extra up to $100 tops. Currently $40 is 40mb and extra tops out at 100mb.<br>$60/mo- 5GB cap, 500mb roaming. Currently $60 is unlimited.<br>$80/mo- truly unlimited, period<br><br>The result would ideally be an influx of new customers at the lower price point. 40mb isn't a useful allocation, not for todays users who will be youtubing and surfing and streaming. However a lower end user could safely stay within 250mb without constantly watching the meter. This would open the service to a much wider audience.<br>Most users would be unaffected at the 5gb cap.<br>However $80/mo would be for the very heavy users, like the guy who runs bittorrent or the family of 6 who has no other Internet connection.<br><br>As an alternative, perhaps do something like fair &amp; flexible, where you can subscribe to the lower plan and get bumped up if your usage increases. So you can sign up at any level, but for each month you get bumped up to whatever level your usage requires. An additional fee could be added to encourage people to sign up for higher plans- for example<br>$40 bumps up to $70 for 5-10gb or $95 for more<br>$60 bumps up to $80 for 10-15gb or $95 for more<br>This both prevents people from being charged absurd rates (keeping total cost under $100 for everybody), allows Sprint to monetize higher usage patterns, and also provides a very attractive option for the average user who just does web/email. <em>This could, in a sense, be a mini-nuke</em>. Most people won't use 500mb so that opens up a whole new market at the $40 level, while also allowing Sprint to better monetize the high bandwidth users. As for the revenue lost by everybody converting from $60 to $40, I think much of that could be made back with additional subscriptions if Sprint advertises that they're the only ones with a useful $40 aircard plan.<br><br>And for the record, I'd be (relatively) happy with this arrangement. I'd obviously prefer $60 for unlimited, but I will worry a lot less about going over a limit and getting a $20 extra bill than I will about going over a limit and being charged 3c/kb or kicked off.<br><br>thoughts?</p><div class="message-edit-history"><span class="edit-author">Message Edited by IronHelix on </span><span class="local-date">05-22-2008</span><span class="local-time"> 01:19 PM</span></div>


Re: PETITION: No 5GB cap for PAM and Aircards! Keep the unlimited data unlimited!

I add my name to this petition and hope every data user does. Iron, your post is a slam dunk. With my whole home network, three computers and XBOX Live all run on the broadband card I come very close to 5GB and I chose Sprint because it is the only one with decent coverage where I live and my only option other than satallite.

Dear Sprint,

If you don't reverse this policy you might as well ready the coffin. It is getting closer and closer to the end. And you are speeding it up with stupid policies that are anti customer. Data customers come to you because you were better and now you offer nothing better than the competition. Except for DirectConnect which with the amount of time it is taking to get qchat out wont even matter, it is coming to an end and I am sad to say I never thought it would get to this. Dan Hesse, in the begining I thought you were the savior of this company, now you seem no better that Forsee.

A ticked off sprint customer.


Re: PETITION: No 5GB cap for PAM and Aircards! Keep the unlimited data unlimited!

I'm in total agreement that this is the worst thing Sprint could do right now... I use pam once in a while, but I don't want to have to be careful when i do.

there is now no difference to make anyonestay with Sprint, in fact, without the MMS service book on my blackberry and the same cap as VZW coming to my PAM, there is a reason to leave sprint and get the MMS I or others want. especially instead of some picturmail application thats not as easy as true MMS.

It's hard to think that I have suggested so many to sprint when they wanted a BB at work, and I said, go to Sprint, unlimited means unlimited... now I can't tell them Sprint is better and feel good about my decision.

Don't do it Sprint, find a better way to get the bandwidth hogs off your network, if its that big of an issue. Keep the difference between you and the competition...


Re: PETITION: No 5GB cap for PAM and Aircards! Keep the unlimited data unlimited!

I have to agree with this petition yet again. While the 5GB cap is not going to affect the average user, there is a group that it will. The differentiation of the truly unlimited plan has actually helped me make sales in my store compared to Verizon and AT&Ts offerings. I will no longer be able to claim it is truly unlimited,and at that point it goes back to who has the better CS/Coverage/Etc. I can see possibly making the data cap higher, but 5GB truly is not where it should be. The post slightly above mine with the $40/60/80 options truly is the way it should be implemented if there must be a cap. It is well thought out and covers many more people that the current plan offerings do not, and with the cap definitely will not.


Re: PETITION: No 5GB cap for PAM and Aircards! Keep the unlimited data unlimited!

I have both a Sprint and a VZW data card. The reason I've been keeping the Sprint card had to do solely with the fact that I don't need to watch my usage - I use the VZW card in places where Sprint doesn't have EV-DO. It was really nice not to have to worry about having the meter running.

This 5GB cap would put Sprint in the unenviable position of not being able to surface near real-time usage on the "My Sprint" website, but terminating or charging users extra who go over the cap. At least with VZW, I can check my usage, and if I'm approaching the cap, curtail my usage.

When I try to look at my data usage on the "My Sprint" website, I get:

We apologize for the inconvenience, but we are unable to display the current data usage for Sprint Connection Cards.
So I'm getting the message that there will be a usage cap, but I will have no way to actually track my usage. That's completely unacceptable.
It really comes down to what I said before. The thing that keeps me with Sprint is the liberal data usage policy where I don't really need to worry about the 5GB limit (something I have rarely gone over). If that goes away, I may as well just drop the Sprint plan and use my VZW card for everything. At least VZW gives me a way to track my usage on their website.


Re: PETITION: No 5GB cap for PAM and Aircards! Keep the unlimited data unlimited!

You bet I'm in.

Sprint is hemorrhaging customers the likes I've never seen in a company before. And this was happening before they put this, FICTION in place!!!

Someone has balls of brass or brains of custard because they didn't check the latest company census of concurrent customers and prospectives before going forward.

Verizon lost DC users to Sprint and now those folks will be searching for a new provider due to this. Congratulations on alienating your base clients.

I got a rant coming up here shortly and it'll be a real scorcher of their attitudes and corporate "decisions" they have directed against their customers.


Re: PETITION: No 5GB cap for PAM and Aircards! Keep the unlimited data unlimited!

Ironhelix - Thanks for the eloquent post.

I'm in full agreement. As competitor's coverage catches up to Sprint's, the "unlimited" term is the only thing distinguishing Sprint from its competitors. Don't make 99% of your users pay for 1% of the troublemakers. Adjust your Terms of Service so you can discipline the bandwidth hogs specifically.

Just by saying there's a 5gb cap you'll lose a lot of new and existing customers, even if those customers would never reach the 5gb cap. It's your ONE SELLING PROPOSITION left.

Not to mention that this move wreaks of collusion between carriers. You'll have partners, vendors, customers AND the guvment all after you on this change. You've got a good thing going with mobile broadband. Don't pooch it.

Nighthawke - Must be brains o' custard, cause in my 2 years experience with Sprint, testicular fortitude has been non-existent.

Last year's customers are calling me with plans for canceling if this goes through as planned. If you want to see the digital data seas part, and flocks of mobile broadband customers leaving for the promised GSM land of high-speed wireless and international compatibility, go right ahead.


Re: PETITION: No 5GB cap for PAM and Aircards! Keep the unlimited data unlimited!

I unleashed a EECB on the execs last night, sparing the CEO and a select few. I got a message back around 3AM from one of them promising me a call by his team soon.

This WILL be VERY interesting to see how they react to my response to their freebies.

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