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Sprint Stops Some Throttling Thanks to Net Neutrality

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Despite the best attempts from several different companies and organizations to block the stronger Net Neutrality rules propositioned by the FCC, Net Neutrality went into effect two weeks ago. And, as of last Friday, we saw the first obvious shift in carrier policy since the new rules went into law. Effective immediately, Sprint has announced it will stop some of its throttling practices.

According to Fierce Wireless, Sprint companies were throttling the data speeds of the top 5% of its heaviest users when the network was experiencing congestion. The real kicker was that these throttling practices would happen whether or not the users had any high speed data available. The practice was fully disclosed in the Terms and Conditions, but was not something Sprint mentioned in its sales material for obvious reasons.

Prepaid Phone News reported that Boost Mobile in particular was bad about this as it considered customers who use more than 5 GB of data to be in the top 5% of users. As Boost recently has changed its plans and two of the three main plans now offer 5 GB or more of data, this seems particularly underhanded.

However, with the new Net Neutrality rules, Sprint would have to fully disclose to customers these practices. Rather than dealing with what would likely be a vast number of unhappy customers, the company has opted to simply change its policies. Here’s what the new policy reads:

The goal of congestion management is to ensure that all users during times of congestion have access to a fair share of the network resources and that no user is starved of resources. When congestion occasionally occurs, customers may experience reduced throughput or speed compared to their normal experience on non-congested sites.

While throttling is mentioned, it looks like it will be a bit more even now–which is how it ought to be to begin with.┬áThe new policies effect Sprint postpaid, Sprint prepaid, Boost Mobile and Virgin Mobile, all of which participated in the old 5% throttling practices.

“Although Sprint believes the program was a reasonable network management practice under both the old and new rules, we determined that the technique as we applied it was not needed to ensure a quality experience for the majority of customers,” the company told Fierce Wireless. “Sprint doesn’t expect users to notice any significant difference in their services now that we no longer engage in the process.”