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Is 4G LTE Connectivity pointless when capped or throttled?

JustAGeekHere

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Danny Bullard

Sprint 4G Rollout Updates

Thursday, March 23, 2012 - 1:15 PM MDT

 

I'm sure you know Sprint offers unlimited data, but what about the other wireless carriers? Well that's a totally different story. Out of the Big 4 carriers in the United States, Sprint is the only carrier to offer "true unlimited data." Verizon killed off their unlimited data plan just last year, leaving their heavy data users in the dust. AT&T on the other hand killed off their unlimited data plan in June of 2010 also leaving their data users in the dust. The 4th largest carrier in the U.S., T-Mobile, also killed off their unlimited data plan in 2011.

 

Carriers claim that "90% to 99% of their customers use less then 2GB of data monthly." At the moment, these are the following monthly rates for data for the Tier 1 Wireless carriers. Verizon; 2GB for $30, 5GB for $50 and 8GB for $80. Big money for moderate to heavy users. It only gets better from there (sarcasm). AT&T; 300MB for $20, 3GB for $30 and 5GB for $50. T-Mobile; 2GB for $29.99, 5GB for $39.99 and 10GB for $69.99. Sprint; $79.99 for Unlimited. Unlimited. Sprint offers the best plans for most data users, obviously.

 

However, the big questions for millions of us, is, when is Sprint going to scrap unlimited? I mean, it has to be soon, right? Mobile World Live scored an interview with Sprint's own CEO Dan Hesse and asked them specifically about Sprint keeping unlimited data. This was Hesse's response,

"We certainly hope so, my plans are to continue with it as long as we possibly can, hopefully forever. We’ll see, you never say always, you never say never, but I think for some time to come. What’s important to be able to maintain, is to really focus on what it takes to maintain it, the customers have spoken very clearly, I talked on the panel earlier today about our customer satisfaction rankings, how much they've increased because of the simplicity and customers really do like unlimited." Peace of mind is awesome isn't it?

 

So what happens when you go over your "data caps?" Your carrier will charge you a certain amount of money for each gig after you break your data cap. This causes many of their users to be fearful or apprehensive to use their data. These caps can be broken within a day if you're running on Verizon's or AT&T's 4G network if you're a heavy data user. Seem far fetched? Consider this...

 

There have been reports of LTE iPad owners going over their data caps within days when running on their carrier's 4G LTE network. There are ways to prevent this from happening (like staying on WiFi while at home). Sucks when you have to worry about going over your data cap. Even if you don't use much data, having unlimited data gives you the relief of not having to worry about going over a certain cap. Having to worry about going over your data cap is the case with most carriers, sadly.

 

So, is LTE connectivity useless when capped or throttled by your carrier? Yes, if you use more data then the provided data plans. Also, do you see unlimited data as a privilege or a given? Sound off in the comments below.

 

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Source: MobileWorldLive



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Capped LTE is like buying a brand new 600 horsepower sports car but you can only drive it around the parking lot, by the time you get up to speed its time to hit the brakes before it costs you an arm and a leg. Conversely, sprint's unlimited data is like bragging that you gonna take your yugo on the autobahn.

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4G LTE on capped data plans is as pointless and Sprint's slower-than-dial-up speeds with no caps, IMO.

 

It wouldn't surprise me if Sprint did away with its "truly unlimited" plans once their speeds catch up to the rest of the carriers. I'm guessing they'll probably give us bigger caps than the other guys though, maybe 5GBs a month?

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I think Unlimited Data is a given... if carriers want to come in to the data service they need to act like it. i don't pay for 5gb of data from Verizon Fios for my home internet, i get unlimited, as does ANYONE WITH ANY HOME INTERNET... data is data, you pay for the connection, not the quantity thats how it works thats how it always should work.

 

every carrier should atleast have an option for unlimited. i get that they are stubborn but give us options, cuttings us off at 5gb because that is the HIGHEST you offer is BS, what happens if i go past that? there isn't even an option for me to buy more then that, its complete monopoly

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People with LTE iPads are going over their data caps not doing anything differently than they were before. Streaming Netflix over LTE uses twice as much data as it does over 3g according to Verizon. Eeek.

 

AT&T wants the app makers to pay for data now, so we'll see how that goes. My guess is it raises the price on apps.

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People with LTE iPads are going over their data caps not doing anything differently than they were before. Streaming Netflix over LTE uses twice as much data as it does over 3g according to Verizon. Eeek. AT&T wants the app makers to pay for data now, so we'll see how that goes. My guess is it raises the price on apps.

they are thinking about making it an option, as in if a dev pays ATT x amount of money then any data used on that app doesn't count against your ATT data alotment.

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An article I recently read about new LTE iPad users stated that they had burned through their 2GB data allowance (on Verizon) in something like 2 or 3 hours while watching streaming HD video on Netflix or similar services.That is the reason why so few iPads are sold with cellular radios in them because most people know that data plans are costly and have very low caps, especially for the newest model with its Retina display.

The other issues is how data plans are sold: users must purchase separate data plans for their smartphones, tablets, and laptops each of which have their own monthly charge. Mobile phone companies are going to have to seriously rethink their data marketing strategies or they will continue to see very low penetration rates for other connected devices like tablets.

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i don't pay for 5gb of data from Verizon Fios for my home internet, i get unlimited, as does ANYONE WITH ANY HOME INTERNET... data is data,

Nope-- MOST ISPs do have a monthly cap (some soft some hard). AT&T U-Verse is 200GB / mo. Cox has 250GB / mo. Just about everyone has limits...

 

But to the point of the iPad on Lte... Mobile broadband is not sustainable for this kind of use. Mobile broadband is intended to provide data when you're away from home-- it was never expected to replace a wired (DSL / Cable) internet link with WiFi in your own home for heavy use like watching movies, etc. There simply isn't enough airspace for EVERYONE to use Mobile broadband rather than a landline for data at home. Now at work, on the go, when on vacation or away from home, I would expect to rely on mobile broadband, but I'd rarely expect to use heavy media during these times. The most mobile data I've ever been able to use was 1.6 GB in a single month, and I used to think that was due to Sprint's pathetic speeds, but since on Verizon, I'm only using about 600 MB / month of my 4GB allowance and I know with the consistent 40 mbps speeds, I could easily burn through more, but I just don't see doing heavy media on my phone.

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every carrier should atleast have an option for unlimited. i get that they are stubborn but give us options, cuttings us off at 5gb because that is the HIGHEST you offer is BS, what happens if i go past that? there isn't even an option for me to buy more then that, its complete monopoly

 

Carriers do give the customer options but unfortunately they aren't the options we want. The reality is these carriers are here to make money and to be as profitable as possible and if customers are willing to pay these kind of insane prices for data then the carriers will continue to charge for it.

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I personally love the unlimited idea because I don't have to count, but the truth is that I never get close to 2GB when on 3G. While in a 4G city for a weekend, I can burn through a gig... Counting streaming music, nav, google search, etc.

 

My point is that as soon as they have enough speeds for people to use some of the more data intensive features, then Sprint will see a dramatic increase in usage. Without a heavily saturated market, that would be fine, but I predict people will come to Sprint to try the new 4G, dragging the network down and forcing sprints hand to cap or throttle data... hopefully at worse case they throttle down @ 5MB and cap at 8MB. it'll still be the best deal, just not 'unlimited'

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For me, the best feature of unlimited is peace of mind. I just use my device without fear of where I am at for usage this month. On Sprint's 3G, it doesn't matter if its unlimited or not, because it is so plagued with issues. But with LTE, unlimited is going to be a huge value.

 

Robert

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Anyone know what the data usage app is in the screenshots? Looks pretty neat.

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I personally love the unlimited idea because I don't have to count, but the truth is that I never get close to 2GB when on 3G. While in a 4G city for a weekend, I can burn through a gig... Counting streaming music, nav, google search, etc.My point is that as soon as they have enough speeds for people to use some of the more data intensive features, then Sprint will see a dramatic increase in usage. Without a heavily saturated market, that would be fine, but I predict people will come to Sprint to try the new 4G, dragging the network down and forcing sprints hand to cap or throttle data... hopefully at worse case they throttle down @ 5MB and cap at 8MB. it'll still be the best deal, just not 'unlimited'

 

I think you meant GB lol

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For me, the best feature of unlimited is peace of mind. I just use my device without fear of where I am at for usage this month. On Sprint's 3G, it doesn't matter if its unlimited or not, because it is so plagued with issues. But with LTE, unlimited is going to be a huge value.Robert

 

It's weird how we have a quote straight from the horses mouth and people with no behind the scenes access to Sprint still say "UNLIMITED DATE WILL GO BYE-BYE! LULZ".

 

Dan says "My plans are to continue with it as long as we possibly can, hopefully forever." and people still say it won't happen. I don't get it.

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I think the main reason all these analysts and pundits are convinced that Sprint is going to do away with unlimited data is simply due to the fact every other major carrier has done so, and therefore Sprint must follow.Yet I've read many articles that have said with smart network management policies in place, and keeping up with network upgrades, it IS possible to offer an unlimited data plan to customers (with reasonable exceptions...for example, if someone was regularly burning through 50+GB a month or more, they might be subject to sanctions like throttling and/or warning notices).

 

Most analysts NOT in the pocket of the wireless industry have all agreed that the #1 reason mobile phone companies are doing this is the money: revenues from voice and the SMS cash cow are shrinking, so naturally they have turned to data and started to cap and charge overages for that service, just as they have in the past for SMS and voice overages.

 

By forcing everyone to a tiered plan, they can rake in more money to offset the loss of revenue from people using far less SMS and voice than they used to. I really think Sprint will hang on to unlimited data for as long as they can, as it is a great way to set themselves apart. I do think they may add some caveats (like saying "excessive" use of a certain amount may trigger some kind of action) but with smart network management I can see them continuing this for a good long time.

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I agree. I don't see unlimited going away any time soon. And Sprint has the best spectrum position over all the wireless carriers in adding additional capacity through Clearwire. It can just keep adding TD-LTE carrier after carrier through Clearwire for years in most markets.

 

Robert

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If I had access to 4G at home I would definitely have far more monthly usage than I do now. Currently, I am still averaging about 1.0-1.3GB per month on 3G, and about 175-300MB on 4G, simply because I had access to Wimax at my previous job. Now that I don't my 4G usage will likely drop dramatically, although I just started watching Netflix while doing laundry at the laundromat (for maybe 45 minutes to an hour) once I found out Wimax coverage worked there, and that alone uses about 100MB an hour.

I just hope OKC doesn't have to wait until mid to late 2013 to see Network Vision, as our 3G speeds are once again tanking badly.

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It's weird how we have a quote straight from the horses mouth and people with no behind the scenes access to Sprint still say "UNLIMITED DATE WILL GO BYE-BYE! LULZ".Dan says "My plans are to continue with it as long as we possibly can, hopefully forever." and people still say it won't happen. I don't get it.

 

Hesse can say whatever he wants. I'll believe that it isn't pure marketing when I see it. Sprint already cut off unlimited from their tablet plans, and they didn't even grandfather anyone in. It was, "here is your new plan, if you don't like it, you can leave ETF free." That is what scares me about smartphone unlimited data. Sprint has made some brazen moves, but I don't think they would have the cajones to make a move like that on smartphone data, who knows...

 

As far as streaming video burning through too much data for the cap, you can set the quality lower. I don't see why anyone would need 720p HD video on a 4.5 inch screen... I remember streaming "Sprint TV" or whatever it was called over a 1xRTT connection.

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Aside from tethering, there is no reason why Sprint cannot sustain smartphone unlimited data with the improvements that are coming via Network Vision. I think if anything, Sprint may try to crackdown on tethering if it has to.

 

Robert

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Anyone know what the data usage app is in the screenshots? Looks pretty neat.

 

That is in the settings of Ice Cream Sandwich.

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