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"
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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!