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Sprint and T-Mobile are at it again

America’s wireless carriers are currently embroiled in a rate war, and Sprint has just fired its second shot this week at the competition. On Tuesday Sprint announced new family share plans aimed at undercutting the competition while at the same time provide larger buckets of data.
 
Today, the wireless carrier has introduced a new unlimited plan that is taking direct aim at T-Mobile. Sprint’s new plan offers unlimited talk, text, and data for $60 per month, compared to $80 per month over at T-Mobile. Sprint points out that this saves customers $480 over the course of a two-year contract compared to T-Mobile’s pricing.
 
And to fend of a criticism that T-Mobile CEO John Legere fired off at Sprint via Twitter this week, new Sprint CEO Marcelo Claure added, “And, we’ve listened to our loyal customers; we’re making the Sprint $60 Unlimited Plan available to both new and existing customers.”


Sprint’s new unlimited data plan will be available starting tomorrow, but we should add that there is one big caveat to Sprint’s latest offering. Like recent moves by Verizon Wireless and T-Mobile, unlimited data isn’t truly “unlimited” when it comes to throttling your data connection. The fine print on the announcement clearly states:
 
To improve data experience for the majority of users, throughput may be limited, varied or reduced on the network.
 
Interestingly, this wording appears to be somewhat tamed compared to what The Verge reported seeing in an earlier draft of the press release:
 
Other plans might receive prioritized bandwidth availability.
 
However, don’t think that T-Mobile — or John Legere — is going to let Sprint have the last word. T-Mobile also today announced a plan to “rescue beleaguered Sprint customers.” The company revealed a promotion that will give Simple Choice customers a full year of unlimited LTE data for free if they bring over a refugee from Sprint, Verizon Wireless, or AT&T. If you already have unlimited LTE data, you’ll receive a $10 credit during each billing cycle.


We're sure that T-Mobile CEO John Legere would love to pour more than just ice water on the competition...

“It continues to amaze me to see the old carriers failing to listen to their customers−or reward them for their loyalty,” said Legere. “That arrogance and indifference has defined the U.S. wireless industry for too long. We’re changing all that. In fact, this entire Un-carrier consumer movement is built on the simple act of listening to customers.”
 
With Sprint and T-Mobile clearly going for each other’s throat, we’re waiting to see what AT&T and Verizon Wireless will bring to the table once they inevitably get dragged into this latest battle.

Sources: Sprint, T-Mobile



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I don't understand
By synapse46 on 8/21/2014 2:17:00 PM , Rating: 2
So Sony gets sued because a game may or may not be HD, but cell carriers can tout unlimited all day long when it is not?




RE: I don't understand
By synapse46 on 8/21/2014 2:17:33 PM , Rating: 5
Also, I have equal hatred for Sony and Sprint.


RE: I don't understand
By Fleeb on 8/21/2014 3:02:35 PM , Rating: 2
This goes 20 years back. Unlimited used to refer to time-based billing and not bandwidth consumption. That marketing designation remained the same.


RE: I don't understand
By rocketcuse on 8/21/2014 3:09:15 PM , Rating: 5
You do understand Unlimited data, does not mean how fast you get the data?


RE: I don't understand
By superflex on 8/21/2014 4:36:06 PM , Rating: 2
He's a typical douche and he wants his data now!


RE: I don't understand
By Omega215D on 8/21/2014 5:36:30 PM , Rating: 2
Even so, if he's in an area that's at capacity then a slow down will be inevitable. T-Mobile isn't doing that to everyone just abusers and to prevent a tower from screeching to a halt.


RE: I don't understand
By Jedi2155 on 8/22/2014 5:19:44 AM , Rating: 3
My T-Mo LTE connection at work is constantly getting dropped during the mid-day because someone is hogging up all the bandwidth and causing tower issues. Its quite annoying. At other times of the day it works great, but always around peak times my connection screeches to a halt.

If they're Netflixing or something along those lines then it makes sense. But if their P2Ping 24/7 at full bandwidth using it, its just stupid.

Throttle their butts.


RE: I don't understand
By The Von Matrices on 8/21/2014 6:29:51 PM , Rating: 3
I agree with you. More people should have been calling out the carriers on their "unlimited" claim the moment it was introduced, not once artificial bandwidth throttling was imposed.

Carriers have butchered the definition of "unlimited" because you can't have unlimited data unless your connection speed is infinite; therefore, no plan could ever be unlimited. Furthermore, while people decry artificially imposed bandwidth limits, I don't see how natural bandwidth limits are any more "unlimited" than artificial bandwidth limits. Taken to its logical conclusion, if one carrier's throttled network speeds are faster than another carrier's unthrottled network speeds, which are "unlimited?"

The problem is not artificial bandwidth limits but the whole idea of calling a plan "unlimited" in the first place.
The original term should have been "unthrottled." Then, there would be zero debate over its definition, and no carrier could argue that throttled plans are "unthrottled" unlike they can claim "unlimited"


RE: I don't understand
By Solandri on 8/21/2014 8:18:52 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
I agree with you. More people should have been calling out the carriers on their "unlimited" claim the moment it was introduced, not once artificial bandwidth throttling was imposed.

Carriers have butchered the definition of "unlimited"

Hah. I called them out on it back in the late 1990s, and I was roundly flamed by consumers who thought the verbiage was preferable to specifying MB/month (data cap) and Mbps (bandwidth), or $/MB (metered). I was flamed for it as recently as a few years ago, when I said it was preferable for ISPs to sell data caps instead of unlimited plans. People don't seem to understand that even if a plan were completely "unlimited", their bandwidth places a natural cap on how much data you can use. And the fact that your connection is shared with other people means that if everyone tries to use too much data, their Mbps will decrease so that their "unlimited GB/month" becomes a smaller amount even though it's still "unlimited".

Let me put it this way. Say a company sells you a 200 GB/month metered plan. They are effectively guaranteeing they can deliver that much data in a month. If they overprovision and your average Mbps drops so low that you could never reach 200 GB/month, then they've effectively lied to you and violated their contract. They must upgrade their equipment so they can provide you with 200 GB/month, or they need to compensate you for your reduced data cap. Not so with "unlimited." They can decrease your average Mbps as much as they like and it's still "unlimited."

Nope, this one is the fault of consumers as much as it is the companies (both cellular and wired ISPs). If one company advertises a 200 GB/month data cap and up to 10 Mbps bandwidth, and another company advertises "unlimited" without specifics, people flock to the unlimited plan. The company trying to be truthful in their advertising is forced to adopt the shady "unlimited" moniker, or go out of business. Up until an industry consensus builds up to drop unlimited plans because they realize high-data users are getting a free ride (which by corollary means low-data users are getting ripped off).

quote:
The original term should have been "unthrottled." Then, there would be zero debate over its definition, and no carrier could argue that throttled plans are "unthrottled" unlike they can claim "unlimited"

"Unthrottled" can't exist in cellular data because you're always sharing the same connection (the airwaves) with other phone users. The moment someone else requests data from the same tower, your data rate is throttled so the tower can accommodate both requests.

"Unthrottled" for wired connections is called a "dedicated" line. They typically cost about 20x more per Mbps than a shared connection. In other words, only companies buy them, not people. e.g. A 1.5 Mbps T1 line costs about $200/month, but because it's dedicated it will always provide 1.5 Mbps. No person is interested in one for their home. But many companies use it as a backup line in case their regular ISP ever goes down.


RE: I don't understand
By The Von Matrices on 8/21/2014 9:58:56 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
this one is the fault of consumers as much as it is the companies (both cellular and wired ISPs). If one company advertises a 200 GB/month data cap and up to 10 Mbps bandwidth, and another company advertises "unlimited" without specifics, people flock to the unlimited plan. The company trying to be truthful in their advertising is forced to adopt the shady "unlimited" moniker, or go out of business.

I also get frustrated seeing comments that technology is regressing because the commenter can no longer buy the "unlimited" data plan that he/she could a few years ago. What these commenters also forget is that the "limited" services available today are superior to the "unlimited" services you could buy in the past. "Unlimited" just isn't a good idea since it encourages a tragedy of the commons.
quote:
"Unthrottled" can't exist in cellular data because you're always sharing the same connection (the airwaves) with other phone users. The moment someone else requests data from the same tower, your data rate is throttled so the tower can accommodate both requests.

You make a good point. I guess there's no precise term (that can be easily marketed) for speed limiting when the connection is not saturated.


Coverage areas still suck...
By talikarni on 8/21/2014 3:11:56 PM , Rating: 2
I worked with a cell phone provider a few years back, and they had a box with 4 antennas (2 inches tall each). Originally it was designed for basic cell signal, 2G, 3G and 4G. Then as a sales tactic, they modified it to actually display cell phone signals from the 4 main companies in any given area, and had switches to change between the different signal types (basic cell signal, 2G, 3G and 4G). Plus it had text based logging capability.
Sprint was consistently the worst coverage, Verizon was consistently the best. Sprint was so bad they could step 3 feet inside the local RadioShack and have the Sprint signal drop below 10%, yet step outside the front door 3 feet away and get 80%. Verizons signal was the least affected by buildings and trees.
Their logs showed that even a roadway cutting through a forest dropped the Sprint signal 15-40%, versus Verizon typically saw less than 10% drop.

After Sprint saw how terrible their service really was, they had it destroyed in order to keep the truth from getting out. Luckily there was about a dozen of us that saw it and used it on occasion.




RE: Coverage areas still suck...
By superflex on 8/21/2014 4:39:57 PM , Rating: 2
Fascinating story. My 6 year old has stories like that too.
How's working for VZN treating you?


RE: Coverage areas still suck...
By FITCamaro on 8/21/2014 4:51:47 PM , Rating: 2
I used to be a Sprint rep in stores. The whole reason my entire family switched off Sprint to Verizon was because of its performance (or lack thereof) indoors. My best friend lives in Orlando and had a Sprint phone through work and it was also still terrible reception. Orlando. One of the biggest cell phone markets in Florida.


RE: Coverage areas still suck...
By Solandri on 8/21/2014 8:34:07 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
Fascinating story. My 6 year old has stories like that too. How's working for VZN treating you?

I'm a Sprint user. There is truth to his story.

Verizon and AT&T inherited 800 MHz bands from when they used to provide analog cell phone service. Sprint and T-Mobile joined the game after cell phones had transitioned to digital, and consequently use 1.9 GHz bands for voice.

The 800 MHz signals penetrate walls and other obstructions like foliage and people a lot better than the 1.9 GHz signals. It is simply physics. The higher frequencies (shorter wavelengths) are diffracted and blocked more easily by obstructions. For an extreme example, light (a very high frequency) is blocked a piece of cardboard. But radio (a very low frequency) can pass right through cardboard, and your body, and the walls of your house.

I expect in the future when towers are using things like differential radios, this will become less of an issue (effectively turn the tower's antenna into a phased array antenna which can be "pointed" at your phone). But that's still many years if not a decade or more away.


Plans aren't getting cheaper
By tviceman on 8/21/2014 2:27:05 PM , Rating: 2
I'm neither excited nor interested in this deal. I got my family (parents, brothers, wives, etc.) in on the Friends and Family so we're at $25 a month for unlimted talk/text and a gig of data. My brother is paying an extra $10 for 3 gigs of data. $35 for 3 gigs of data, to me, is the obviously better value plan, IMO.

FREE Wifi is offered everywhere now. Panera, Starbucks, McDonalds, grocery stores, Home Depot, airports, hotels, etc. so much so that unlimited data plans on mobile phone networks should be getting less and less appealing, IMO.




RE: Plans aren't getting cheaper
By Rukkian on 8/21/2014 3:13:09 PM , Rating: 2
I am sure that many people do not feel the need for lots of data, and I may be in the minority, but I ride a rideshare (15 pass van) everyday to/from work for 35 mins and use some sort of streaming during that ride (normally netflix, but occasionally just pandora) and also stream audio pretty much whenever I am in my car. I don't usually tether (maybe accounts for 300mb a month so my kids can use their tablets in the car), and don't really download anything and still hit 6-8GB per month.

I doubt I am the only one in this boat. The people that use their unlimited to use as their home internet (while it can be done, it was never intended for that) and go through 100+GB per month are what ruined the unlimited data imo. I am still clinging to my grandfathered unlimited through Verizon (15 months still on the contract since I transferred my upgrade to another line for my G2, then transferred to phone to my line)


RE: Plans aren't getting cheaper
By Jeremy87 on 8/21/2014 5:16:28 PM , Rating: 2
I have slow (256kbit) but truly unlimited internet (there are no limited plans here) for $4 per month. I'd like a little faster, but the next step is 20Mbit for $30, which is too much for me.
But the choices and prices you guys have are just ridiculous...


Naysayers be damned
By Freakie on 8/21/2014 3:01:46 PM , Rating: 4
What's this? Competition in the cellular market is driving down prices for consumers? How can that be! Merging the companies is supposed to be the only way to accomplish that!




T-mobile Unlimited
By johned3 on 8/21/2014 3:15:41 PM , Rating: 2
I will post this again even though Daily Tech writers can't seem to read. According to T-Monews.com, T-mobile is only throttling you if you are abusing the network by violating terms of service. If you are using legitimate services like Netflix, you should never be throttled.

http://www.tmonews.com/2014/08/clearing-up-the-con...




Anybody Really Get Full Speed?
By FredExII on 8/23/2014 2:40:03 AM , Rating: 2
I'm in southwestern Michigan near South Bend, IN where Notre Dame University is...I don't have T Mobile or Verizon available and I'm just 3 miles into Michigan. It stops at the border as far as them offering it. Even so, I don't know anybody that gets full speed data connects on any of the company's crap.

Do any of you truly get full speed data?

I can't imagine getting throttled back since I'm lucky to even get a 4G connect and then at max it is half speed. Yes, everything is supposed to be upgraded to 4G LTE here.




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