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Wireless Networking

Sprint Customers Face 5GB Hotspot Data Cap, As of Oct. 2 222

Posted by timothy
from the that's-enough-for-the-likes-of-you dept.
zacharye writes "Sprint on Thursday confirmed that it will soon introduce a data cap tied to its mobile hotspot add-on for smartphone users. Currently, Sprint subscribers with compatible smartphones can pay an extra $29.99 per month for unlimited Wi-Fi tethering, which allows other devices to connect via Wi-Fi in order to utilize a Sprint phone's 3G or 4G data connection. Beginning October 2nd, the mobile hotspot add-on will be capped at 5GB of data per month."
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Sprint Customers Face 5GB Hotspot Data Cap, As of Oct. 2

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  • How does this affect USB tethering, if at all?
    • As long as you not using an sort of "official" application then I don't believe this will effect you.
      • by Nadaka (224565)

        I was actually planning on paying for tethering and dropping my land line internet once sprint brought 4g to my city. No more. I'll just keep using an unofficial tether program on the occasions I find it useful.

        • WIMAX sucks ass anyhow, get Verizon's LTE 4G, it's really nice.
          • by gearloos (816828)
            You are an absolute idiot.. and a fanboi to top it off. Verizon Employees shouldn't be able to post without a disclaimer.. but I guess it's actually obvious so oh well. To the OP: The only real way to stop this crap would be for everyone to simply show with their wallet that they aren't going for it. Just simply cancel service. The problem is that nobody will. Even if they did, they have nowhere to go. The axis of evil that is Verizon and ATT is waiting, hands clenched with a maniacal laugh heard coming fr
        • Re:usb tethering? (Score:5, Insightful)

          by schnell (163007) <me@schnellCOBOL.net minus language> on Thursday September 22, 2011 @07:44PM (#37486240) Homepage

          I was actually planning on paying for tethering and dropping my land line internet once sprint brought 4g to my city.

          I feel your pain but I don't understand why the smart, otherwise technically savvy people on Slashdot seem to not understand this:

          Wireless is not and will not be a replacement for wireline broadband. They are fundamentally different economically and technically.

          With wireline (cable/DSL/FiOS/leased line/whatever) broadband, an ISP can cram as much data down each of those pipes as their upstream/downstream terminal gear (VDSL, DOCSIS 3.0, GPON, etc.) can handle and their upstream bandwidth can take. Bandwidth allowances to individual customers have comparatively small impact on other users, so you can get very high speeds and large data caps

          With wireless, ISPs are functionally limited by their available licensed spectrum within each market area. Currently there is more thirst for cellular data than there is available spectrum, so in most cellsites in any moderately populated area, you are going to be fighting for bandwidth with everyone who is streaming HD NetFlix. You can solve that with more spectrum, but at least in the US, spectrum coasts a s**tload of money, and there is a shortage of it available to the wireless providers already. You could help the issue with more cell towers, but those cost a lot of money to put up and even if you want to spend the cash, in many areas all the tinfoil hat brigades complain about their cell service but then make carriers go through three years of environmental impact studies to put more towers up if ever.

          So for practical purposes, wireless bandwidth is a much more constrained resource than wireline bandwidth is, and what each user "eats" may be taking off the plate of the next user, so that's why you get caps/throttling/whatever. There is no secret conspiracy to make wireless users' lives miserable, all the carriers have these same frustrating data policies because... they all have to deal with the same spectrum limitations, regulatory limitations, and the need to make money.

        • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

          by lexsird (1208192)

          This game they play with the data has grated on my last nerve. I will be dropping my data package this month all together, and use my phone as just that, a phone. It was great in theory, but the limitations, and greed of the companies have overshadowed it, hence I am out. Frankly, I have found I don't need it. Being unplugged is liberating. I was recalling back when nobody had cell phones, we still functioned just fine. I just need to find use for my smart phone, but I can ditch it as well if it's too big o

  • They are acting like the cable co used to act with routers where they said no or wanted you to pay more to use more then one system.

    • by Dynedain (141758)

      DSL providers used to do this too.

      The only problem is that at least Cable ISPs were in competition with DSL providers, and for a while there were a relatively many to choose from.

      In the US cellphone market, you have essentially 4 providers (possibly soon to be 3) with the same data-cap policies.

      • by tmosley (996283)
        It sure would be nice if they would allow some more competition. Too bad the little guys can't afford e911, cost of compliance with FCC regulations, etc. If they didn't have to pay that, we might have a situation more like the rest of the developed world.
    • by webdog314 (960286)

      Except that the cable company CAN add more hardware to increase their throughput, the cell companies have a fixed amount of bandwidth to slice up at any given time. In higher density areas or at peak usage times, more towers wouldn't help.

  • Stop this BS (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday September 22, 2011 @05:23PM (#37484894)

    "Hi, would you like to subscribe to our unlimited bandwidth plan"
    "Sure!"
    "Hello again, I see you've been using some of our bandwidth, I'm afraid when we said 'unlimited' what we actually mean was 'severely and punitively limited' so your going to have to either stop or pay us a fuck ton more money"

    Why the hell are corporations worldwide allowed to keep pulling this shit? If it's not a straight bait-and-switch then it's using a rather unconventional definition of unlimited, and every single time they are allowed to get away with it.

    • This is only when using the hotspot addon. The data plan is still unlimited otherwise.

      • Re: (Score:2, Redundant)

        by imric (6240)

        Unlimited as long as you only use those ones and zeroes the way Sprint says you can.

      • by Nadaka (224565)

        It is unlimited... for limited values of unlimited.

    • by pdfsmail (2423750)
      Holy shit Im gonna have a heart attack.. I thought I was the only person on earth who thought this same thing.... Someone needs to put their foot down on these companies, they are all using similar tactics to make a system that is owned by a few companies, but act like a single monopoly by sharing the same bad ideas. No one will step up though.. it would be nice but everyone thinks someone else will do it or its not worth it..... I just need power to do it..
    • Re:Stop this BS (Score:5, Insightful)

      by tmosley (996283) on Thursday September 22, 2011 @05:44PM (#37485152)
      Not worldwide. This is only in America, baby!
    • by jmorris42 (1458) *

      Seriously. I was in the local mall last month and, I shit you not, saw a big sign saying "Unlimited Voice, Text and Data*" with very small print saying "* 2GB limit on data". This word you keep using, I do not think it means what you think it means. Wish I could remember which outfit was doing it now but I remember pointing it out to the wife and laughing loudly enough it annoyed the weasel manning the kiosk.

      Where is the police? Don't they patrol the mall? None of them bother to notice obvious, blatant

    • ...using a rather unconventional definition of unlimited...

      Like Netflix (and others) - unlimited DVDs per month, one at a time.
      Hmm... Thirty days / (minimum) two day turn around per disc = 15 discs / month max. Hardly "unlimited".

      People are suckers for advertising.

    • It's a play on words is all it is, "unlimited bandwidth" doesn't clarify *what* is unlimited regarding the bandwidth. I worked for a company once where the CEO purposely used this same play on words, only in the fine print of the TOS it defined 'unlimited bandwidth' as using up as much as the 100mb pipe you could at any given time, the 'total' amount of bandwidth used over a monthly period was a different story all together and *not* unlimited.
  • by Joe_Dragon (2206452) on Thursday September 22, 2011 @05:24PM (#37484902)

    jailbreak the phone that is ok under the law and use a 3rd party hotspot app.

    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward

      However breaking Sprint's TOS while using Sprint isn't ok with the law.

  • by mfwitten (1906728)

    Do we really need these telcos anyway? Wouldn't it be possible to establish a network of cheap transceivers throughout neighborhoods and cities for at least the purpose of carrying voice and video communications? Then population centers could be connected by a few larger transceivers jointly managed by both communities. Heck, I'd bet we could implement higher fidelity audio data too.

    Caps are arbitrary limitations for the purpose of stealing as much profit as possible from consumers; these communications com

    • by ceoyoyo (59147)

      "Caps are arbitrary limitations for the purpose of stealing as much profit as possible from consumers;"

      That's ridiculous. Capacity will always be finite and so there will always be some kind of cap. In the past connections were so slow that you could get away without an actual transfer cap. Now, not so much. All they're doing is putting an actual number on the cap instead of selectively enforcing some ill defined limit.

      If you think you can set up your own cellular network in competition, go for it. "A n

      • by sohmc (595388)

        I don't deny that bandwidth/capacity/etc is a finite resource...but you have to admit when a company says "unlimited", you think, "wow! I can use as much as I want!"

        Back in the bad old days of broadband, they advertised "UNLIMITED!" without restrictions and with no mouse print.

        Some companies still do this, but then they hide the language in their 12 page TOS.

        If it's not unlimited, don't say it is.

        • by ceoyoyo (59147)

          Exactly. The problem is not with caps, the problem is implying there are no caps. Everybody (in the US) seems to get mad when a company announces they're imposing a cap, but all they're doing is being honest about something that was always true.

          My internet plan is advertised with a speed and an amount of data, both per month. I think it's overpriced, but it is honest.

      • How is the amount of data limited? Is it a resource that has to be mined or collected?

        Bandwidth (as in, data transferred per unit of time) is limited by the capacity of the network. Amount of data isn't.

        What they're trying to do is limit bandwidth (which is grossly oversold) by limiting your ability to use it. Nothing to do with it being finite.

        • by ceoyoyo (59147)

          Take the bandwidth of a network (measured in bits per second) and multiply by some customary amount of time (say a month). See that number? That's the maximum number of bits you can squeeze through the network in that time period. It's finite. Limited. It really is bandwidth, just measured over a different time period, but we like to call it an amount because the time period is so long we don't think of it as a rate.

          However you want to think of it, it is limited.

          • That's not a real limit. It's a useless number.

            Let's say it's 10 Petabytes (completely random number). If the users only use 5 Petabytes during 29 days of the month, can they use the other 5 on the last day? No, because the real limit is the bandwidth at each moment. And if there's a month in which they only use 8, can they save the last 2 for the next month? No. Because there's nothing to be 'saved'. Either it's used or it isn't.

    • by hawkeyeMI (412577)
      I keep hoping for this but I understand it's rather complex to make such a network function well.
    • That's basically what they're doing in Afghanistan: http://hardware.slashdot.org/story/11/06/26/0322238/afghans-build-open-source-internet-from-trash [slashdot.org]

      But I bet latency alone kills a bunch of applications (VoIP, gaming, etc).

    • by Shadowmist (57488)

      Do we really need these telcos anyway? Wouldn't it be possible to establish a network of cheap transceivers throughout neighborhoods and cities for at least the purpose of carrying voice and video communications? Then population centers could be connected by a few larger transceivers jointly managed by both communities. Heck, I'd bet we could implement higher fidelity audio data too.

      Caps are arbitrary limitations for the purpose of stealing as much profit as possible from consumers; these communications companies who put on caps are basically saying: "Actually, we aren't any good at communications."

      [Disclaimer: I don't really know what I'm talking about, which I'm sure someone will point out.]

      To be succinct and precise, No it wouldn't. Telecommunications more than just stringing up a bunch of routers, it's a massive infrastructure undertaking, plain and simple.

    • by nd (20186)

      See the MondoNet project [mondonet.org] for an implementation of this idea.

    • by Doc Ruby (173196)

      If there were a VOIP phone app for Android that worked over Sprint 3G but handed off seamlessly (in-call, no disconnect) to WiFi when in range, then we would have an alternative to Sprint's network lockin monopoly. And these price gouging limits would become pretty scarce. Competition that isn't just a cartel will do that.

  • by KiloByte (825081) on Thursday September 22, 2011 @05:29PM (#37484968)

    Ok, so please remind me why are they allowed to market these speeds as anything above 15.6kbit they are?

    We need a law that says burst speeds must be quoted no more prominently than the long-term one.

  • I wonder if that's the real reason.
  • For reference [youtube.com]
    I wish companies would stop using the word "unlimited" when they really mean "limited". Same thing goes toward coupons that say "No limitations!" but when you read the fine print it says, "Not for gift cards, furniture, clothes, anything we sell, really."
    • To be fair, I didn't see anything in that ad about unlimited tethering, and the rest is still unlimited.

  • In other news, a wireless hotspot is a standard feature of Android if your vendor hasn't disabled it and several networks (e.g. T-Mobile) offer unlimited data plans at a reasonable price.

    • by jmorris42 (1458) *

      And refuses to sign up customers in my zip code. T-Mobile: no bars. Verizon: Evil Incarnate. Sprint: Meh. AT&T: Big, Stupid, thinks they are still The Phone Company. Everyone else: Buys tower access from one of the other four.

      I rarely use a cell so I'm currently on a dinky little prepaid outfit called h2o wireless. Cheap if you don't actually use a phone a lot. Throw $10 or $20 at em and the phone is live for 90 days or until you burn off the credit at $0.14/minute for voice or $0.05/text. And t

    • by Doc Ruby (173196)

      My HTC 4G Android isn't going anywhere except Sprint, since that's the only network it will connect to. Sprint has of course locked it, which is how they're implementing this data cap and get to charge $30 extra a month to enable it.

      The real question is what Android config/SW can do it anyway, despite Sprint's terms - which they're changing unilaterally now.

  • You can blame this on Sprint's roll-out of the iPhone 5, coming next month.

  • You know, the one that claims that Sprint gives unlimited data on their network vs every other company, which is currently playing right now on my TV?

    • by tepples (727027)
      I guess Sprint still gives unlimited data transfer as long as the application is 1. running on your phone and 2. not acting as a proxy, tunnel, etc.
  • Clear offers unlimited mobile 4G Internet for not much more per month, AND they use the same 4G network as Sprint! (Sprint is a major investor in Clearwire.)

    If Clear starts capping usage at 5GB, that'll be the end of their business model (since they advertise themselves as an alternative to cable or DSL).
  • Is this retroactive to all existing customers? That wasn't clear. If so, that sux like illegal bait and switch scams sux.

    Also, if there is no limit in downloading data to the phone itself, and the phone can link to other devices by WiFi, Bluetooth, and/or USB cable, what if you have one app that downloads data to your phone memory card, and a second app running asynchronously reads that memory card and moves data out to other local devices. And the process can be reversed to send data from other devices t
  • by Nom du Keyboard (633989) on Thursday September 22, 2011 @06:55PM (#37485774)
    I'm not in favor of new regulations, but I'd support this one. Quite simple: BIG TEXT overrules small text. If you say UNLIMITED DATA with or without an asterisk, even if the small text says 2GB or 5GB or any GB cap, it doesn't apply. Simple as that.
    • by PRMan (959735)
      You can't say "Creamy" if it doesn't have milk in it, but you can say "Unlimited" when it's limited. This country's nuts.
  • The caps are really only needed to prevent the network from getting overloaded during peak periods. The caps don't need to apply during times of low demand.

    An indiscriminate cap is a pretty clumsy way to prevent network saturation. So give us free unlimited nights and weekends.

  • I get FREE cellular UMTS 256/256 internet in Poland. No caps, only downside is forced reconnect every 60 minutes.

  • The headline could be read to say that Sprint is monitoring how much data their customers download to their phones when using other hot spots, while the reality is that they are controlling how much data you can send through one of their mobile hotspots.

    While the latter makes more sense, you can't rule out the possibility of the former when talking about a company like Sprint.
  • I knew American cellular plans were costly, but holy crap that is expensive. A $30 add-on just to tether!?

    That's ~more~ than I pay per month for my ENTIRE PHONE PLAN (calls, texts, data). I can use the included data in any way I want, tethered or otherwise, no add-on required. And I live in Australia which is not exactly renowned for being cheap when it comes to telecommunications...

    I'm actually moving to live in the US next year and will likely be there for a couple of years at least. Seems like I'll be sp

  • If they're changing the terms in the middle of my 2 year contract, I think I could cancel service without penalty. I bought the phone and signed up for 2 years when I was offered an unlimited hotspot plan. Yes, I've been paying $30/month for the hotspot, since the day I switched to Sprint.

  • I pay over $100:mo for a 4G HTC on Sprint with the hotspot, unlimited data. I was paying $30:mo for the hotspot. It's a work phone; our field service division uses them in conjunction with 4G fixed nodes at remote sites they service. We didn't get any real break on the price even though we've got hundreds of accounts and devices on the Sprint network. The 4G signal is nearly nonexistent except when we tune the fixed nodes to point at an antenna, and I'm in NYC. The Hotspot was not at all worth the price, es

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