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[UPDATED] EDITORIAL: Marcelo, that's not quite what we were thinking "All In" would look like

S4GRU

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by Robert Herron

Sprint 4G Rollout Updates

Tuesday, June 30, 2015 - 1:30 PM MDT

 

Update: at 7:00 p.m. MDT Sprint CEO Marcelo Claure announced the following on Twitter, "We heard you loud and clear and we are removing the 600 kbps on streaming video. #Allin and we won't stop"

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We don't do many editorials here at S4GRU. We tend to editorialize in our forums. Where our opinions run rampant. We also don't do articles about plan offerings. We are a network focused site. However, our Staff here at S4GRU feels that one is due concerning Sprint's new All In plans.

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We aren't sure where Sprint was going with this. Is it a new plan or is it a Trojan horse meant to protect the network from streaming?

 

The title "ALL IN" and the hashtag #AllIn conjures up the thought of the poker strategy. Where you push all your chips in with your best and final bet. The one you do when you have a winning hand. The bet that ends all other bets. It's everything you can offer up. You have given your all. It's the best you can do and you believe it is unbeatable. Because you are putting it all on the line.

 

But the All In plan doesn't appear to be a winning strategy. We believe it will not succeed for Sprint as they intend. It is not really less expensive or more attractive than existing plans or Tmo's new plans. And has a Draconian hard streaming cap of 600kbps throughput. That streaming cap is going over like a lead filled balloon.

 

Simple is good, you're on the right track

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We like the idea of simplicity. No more hidden costs and fees. You just pay one flat rate for phone and unlimited data. OK. The David Beckham video and the attractive Sprint store rep is good. It makes a great point, compared to your competitors. But it's an easy thing for your competitors to replicate. Simple pricing. And they don't have fine print limiting streaming to only 600kbps. That really is the kicker here.

 

So we just aren't seeing the new and innovative thing with All In. You already have plans that price out the same way as All In (some even less expensive). It appears as a marketing gimmick that is disguising a desperate move to limit streaming. This is not popular with your current customers and your new customers are likely going to hate you for it. After they find out.

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Marcelo, it's inappropriate that David Beckham touts unlimited movie watching and you reference unlimited watching videos in your Press Release. 600kbps video streaming can hardly run any YouTube or Netflix streaming. It will buffer significantly even with the lowest resolution settings. 600kbps is insufficient for most moderate quality video streaming on a smartphone screen.

 

Unlimited only matters because of streaming

 

Let's face facts here. Unlimited only matters to most customers because of streaming. I'm just pulling a number out of the sky here based on my experiences running a Sprint themed wireless blog, but I would venture a guess that 95% of your customers use just a gig or two of data monthly if you do not include streaming. It's not hard to offer unlimited data excluding streaming.

 

Most customers who see Sprint as a value in wireless is because of unlimited streaming. If customers do not stream, they can live with reasonable data buckets. 1GB, 2GB, 5GB plans will work for almost everyone, excluding streaming. If you remove streaming from unlimited, most people don't care about unlimited when they understand it all.

 

Yes, you will still allow unlimited streaming with All In plans, but at only 600kbps. That is way too low. It is a defacto removal of unlimited streaming. I'm sure it was put in place to reduce the burden on the network significantly. By getting people to stop streaming because of the poor video quality. And reducing the burden on the network for those who continue with poor quality streaming.

 

With all that said, we get it. We get the need to do something about streaming. It is a problem. It is a huge drain on your network. But we need to call it what it is and not hide the problem in a new plan and then tout unlimited streaming to the masses. That part is a huge mistake. The media, bloggers and your customers are all crying foul.

 

Unlimited data abusers are killing the network, we get it. But this is not the solution or the time

 

The problem here is that the All In plan punishes everyone. But we see the issue here as data abusers. Customers who use vastly higher data amounts than everyone else. The five percenters, or even the one percenters. Tmo has decided to deal with these types by creating a monthly soft cap of 21GB on unlimited plans. So for Tmo, they have drawn a line and said that customers who exceed 21GB are the ones causing the most problems on their network.

 

Most customers do not use more than 21GB per month. Probably 95% - 98% use less than that. To cite our own S4GRU internal poll, somewhere just north of 8% use that much data. And our members are typically pretty heavy users compared to the general population.

 

But our data also illustrates that a minority of users, those who use more than 21GB per month, have a huge impact to the total usage. Just a small handful of abusers can account for 30% to 50% of all traffic. These people are killing unlimited data for all of us.

 

S4GRU Staff and most of our members understand the burden that the abusers are creating to the network. We have been sitting by waiting for something to be done about it. We know something has to be done, and we support something to be done in general. But this is not it.

 

The T-Mobile 21GB soft cap is one way. And frankly, it's much better than a 600kbps streaming cap. Your streaming cap affects all customers who stream. The Tmo 21GB cap affects only customers who have used more than their fair share. And it gets reset next month. Your 600kbps plan never gets reset. A customer can never do anything to have a good quality stream, except leave Sprint.

 

I can understand why you wouldn't mind chasing away data abusers. But why would you want to chase away good customers who occasionally want to have a quality streaming experience? You're telling them they have to go to T-Mobile, or AT&T or Verizon if they want a quality video streaming experience. Bad idea!

 

You need to remove the 600kbps streaming limit immediately from All In. Or it is dead on arrival. DOA. David Beckham can't save it as is. Like he is going to watch videos on his smartphone streamed at 600kbps. You need to do this in a way that punishes only those who abuse your unlimited offering. Not every day customers.

 

Perhaps limiting video streaming to something more useful? Like 2Mbps. Or maybe a soft cap, like 21GB? Or 25GB? Also, the previous plans of only limiting users on sites that are over capacity. That at least was fair. I understand Net Neutrality all plays into this. But something better is needed. You're strangling your Golden Goose. It feels like you have just put Unlimited on life support.

 

In conclusion

 

We like the idea of simplicity. All In has good roots and the David Beckham video really drives home the point. It can be a good differentiator for Sprint. Although some of our members would like to see the pricing even lower to compete better with existing plans.

 

That said, Sprint must do something else with the video stream throttling. It's nearly universal that 600kbps is too low. It's not even close to satisfactory. We have never had a virtually unanimous response before. Until now. Nearly everyone believes this is an outright awful move.

 

We could find almost zero support even among Sprint's most loyal base. Marcelo, the tech media and the haters are eating your lunch today. You're being flamed, and All In will go down in flames if you don't do something about this. And fast.

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Unlimited is what Sprint uses to differentiate itself from everyone else. And Sprint's unlimited reputation is being injured right now. Sprint cannot handle being branded as the network with unlimited, except streaming. It will drive customers away and keep them away in droves. The reputation is already starting to stick. Fix it! Fix it now!

 

Marcelo, we are begging you to crack down on the data abusers. Not your everyday customers who may stream occasionally. Or may use a lot over one or two days every few months when on vacation. Most of your customers want to be able to have a quality streaming experience within a reasonable amount every month.

 

But my real fear is new customers. They are expecting a quality streaming experience, as they received from their previous providers. Now just unlimited. It's not like Sprint sales reps are going to be telling everyone they are going to have a low resolution always buffering video streaming experience. It will be in the fine print that no one will read. And they are going to be pissed off at Sprint once they figure it out. And your competition and the Sprint haters are going to eat this up. John Legere is already grinning ear to ear like the Grinch who Stole Sprint Customers.

 

There's still time to fix All In. But time is running out. Please make me look foolish for #AllInDOA. I want to eat my words. Err, hashtag. Marcelo did make me eat it! And it was tasty!

 

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Good article Robert. I agree with your points. I can see why they are trying this but they aren't going about it the right way. I hope you don't mind but I tweeted this to Marcelo letting him know we are concerned how this new plan could hurt Sprint.

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This is one of those decisions where you wonder how on earth this even saw the light of day.

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Hopefully Marcelo and his marketing team reads this and does something quick. Excellent writeup.

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AMAZING write-up...  can "we" use the hashtag on Twitter? in good taste!

 

Go for it. I think it will help to get the hashtag out there.

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Hopefully Marcelo and his marketing team reads this and does something quick. Excellent writeup.

And that is exactly why I tweeted it to him.

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600kbps = 75 KB/s. So, this is about equivalent to watching video on a decent 3G connection. Back when I had my iPhone 4S on Sprint (3G only), this seemed okay.

 

If a capped, reliable stream of 75KB/s is attainable, I don't think video should be choppy, however it may force the video provider to use a lower quality stream. Again, my 4S never looked *awful* when streaming over a mediocre 3G connection, so I don't think this would be noticeable by the majority of users.

 

Where 600kbps will cause issues is with buffering. You'll basically never have a buffered connection if signal drops or degrades below 600kbps.

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I wish Sprint would do what they did with Boost; huge bucket of data to prevent abuse (20gb for $55), but you can adjust the compression used on video streaming to either maximize quality, or minimize data usage. I watch a ton of video and don't really care about quality, so compression is a huge asset for me. It's understandable why people would hate it though.

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I have felt for awhile now that for every two steps forward, Sprint always manages to take one big step back killing that forward momentum.  I have been on this site for a long time, since the WIMAX days.  This company really, and I mean really, needs to turn its numbers around quickly.  Today, I feel they fell flat on their face after all the hype.  It is like the coach who says his team will come out swinging in Game 7, they are #ALLIN, only to lose in a landslide.  

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I've seen the 600k streaming number posted on a number of their plans for quite some time. I also read that while Sprint has the capability to do so, they have never implemented it. Going back to Framily didn't they say that other plans could be prioritized, and streaming was limited to 600k? They've said this on Boost and Virgin for some time.

 

In fact, I thought I just read that they were REMOVING any throttling from their unlimited plans because AT&T got hit by a lawsuit.

 

So even though that is there, does Sprint only have it mentioned as a safety measure or for congested situations?

 

While I completely agree with everything you say, and I think the whole All In thing is a huge joke, are we getting worked up over something that is actually happening, or is it just fine print in case they need it later?

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I'd really have no problem with soft caps set up in the 20+ GB range.  That's a little lofty to reach monthly for 95%+ as you said.  Good write up!

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Nice article Robert.  I have been a Sprint/Nextel customer over 10 years and like most here, have been through the bad times.  Now that the times are getting better, Sprint wants to make them worse?!?  Sorry Sprint, this #AllIn was poorly thought out and planned.  Penalizing your longtime loyal customers who have praised your efforts to this point is not a reward for staying.

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I've seen the 600k streaming number posted on a number of their plans for quite some time. I also read that while Sprint has the capability to do so, they have never implemented it. Going back to Framily didn't they say that other plans could be prioritized, and streaming was limited to 600k? They've said this on Boost and Virgin for some time. In fact, I thought I just read that they were REMOVING any throttling from their unlimited plans because AT&T got hit by a lawsuit. So even though that is there, does Sprint only have it mentioned as a safety measure or for congested situations? While I completely agree with everything you say, and I think the whole All In thing is a huge joke, are we getting worked up over something that is actually happening, or is it just fine print in case they need it later?

The difference here is it says it will be capped "at all times".  Not just it "may" be capped.  Big difference.

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Previous attempts were video streaming may be throttled around 1Mbps, when necessary. Or data throttles may occur if you were on a congested site and you are a heavy user. And people didn't really report that as happening.

 

A 600kbps throttle on all streaming is a very big departure from all previous Sprint plans. The new All In video streaming throttle affects all customers on the plan, no matter what.

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600kbps might just manage a 640x360 stream with some level of decency but 1mbps would be better. With h265 coming that will improve a little on devices that support it but it is most effective at high resolutions. 

 

I love unlimited, not because I thrash it, but because I know what my bill will be. If Sprint straight matched tmos 2 for 100 deal I would be very close to switching, tmos international plan is about all that would keep me. Sprint needs to shower a bit more love on the rock I live on but hopefully that will change in the next year. 

 

Tmos 21GB has been talked about a lot. It is the threshold at which the deprioritization kicks in currently for the top 3% of users. It's basically what they did before but now they are saying what amount gets you on the naughty step. 

 

What I don't understand about Sprints offering, even with the 600kbps is that it is enforced all the time, even if you are the only one on a site. That minor tweak alone would make this a very different proposition. If they have the capacity free why not let people use it? 

 

I understand the reluctance to offer unfettered unlimited because the reality is any provider would need to eventually restrict it. It also needs some clear disadvantage over a pay per GB plan (which is fair). Prioritizing the pay per GB traffic seems fair. 

 

Sprint came really close with this plan, lets hope they listen and tweak it slightly. 

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Great editorial!

 

Sprint, just call the plan what it is: "Unlimited Email."

 

Or "unlimited everything except video." Next they will impose speed limits on music like pandora, iheartradio, google music, etc.

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600kbps = 75 KB/s. So, this is about equivalent to watching video on a decent 3G connection. Back when I had my iPhone 4S on Sprint (3G only), this seemed okay.

 

If a capped, reliable stream of 75KB/s is attainable, I don't think video should be choppy, however it may force the video provider to use a lower quality stream. Again, my 4S never looked *awful* when streaming over a mediocre 3G connection, so I don't think this would be noticeable by the majority of users.

 

Where 600kbps will cause issues is with buffering. You'll basically never have a buffered connection if signal drops or degrades below 600kbps.

 

I would say this would be "alright" if phones still had 3.5 inch screens and were not 2K...which I would expect 4K devices to be out either later this year or next. I'd say anything lower than 720p on the current devices would look grainy or blurry.

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I can only steam music reliably about 50% as it is.. This can't bode well. This is not the "value proposition" I hoped they were going for.

 

(I realize I'm not talking apples for apples)

 

Edit: Whew! Thank you Robert and co. for putting on the heat.

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I can only steam music reliably about 50% as it is.. This can't bode well. This is not the "value proposition" I hoped they were going for.

 

(I realize I'm not talking apples for apples)

 

Unfortunately I know what you mean. I'm in Orange County, CA and I can only stream music reliably if I'm connected to band 41. Band 25 and 3g is just awful for streaming with 3g almost unusable for any data related tasks.

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