LTE data lovers, beware: Sprint has started sending out notices to people who use the most data on its network, informing them that their speeds may be throttled in order to make way for other users’ traffic during congested periods.
According to a FAQ post by the company, Sprint uses a “proportional fairness scheduler algorithm” to ensure that nobody who is trying to use its network will be deprived of service. What that does mean is that people in the top 5 percent of data users in one billing period could see their speeds decline during peak hours in the next billing period. While that’s a significant change for people who rely on Sprint’s network to connect to the Internet while they’re on the go, the carrier says that ordinary users don’t need to worry.
Most of the users who fall in the top 5 percent use more than 5 GB of data a month, which is a lot of bits. By throttling their connections, Sprint can help boost the reliability of its network, which has been a point of criticism in the past, as well as encourage customers to just stop using so much data.
What’s more, those people who are in line to get throttled will still get full speeds when the company’s network isn’t under heavy load, so it would still be possible for someone to watch a season of “House of Cards” on their smartphone late at night without being connected to a Wi-Fi network.
Sprint isn’t alone: AT&T and Verizon use similar systems to manage their networks. T-Mobile has said that it sometimes prioritizes post-paid customers on its network over data from consumers who use its GoSmart Mobile pre-paid service.