Sprint's Boost, Virgin to throttle heavy data users to slower speeds starting in May

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Sprint (NYSE:S) prepaid brands Virgin Mobile and Boost Mobile will throttle the speeds of heavy data users to slower speeds starting in May, apparently the result of increased smartphone penetration and data usage in the brands.

Boost and Virgin have throttled users' speeds since the spring of 2012 if they exceed 2.5 GB of data usage in a monthly cycle. Previously, their speeds were throttled down to 256 Kbps for the remainder of their billing cycle or unless they topped up their accounts.

However, starting May 16, customers on the brands who use more than 2.5 GB of data will find their speeds reduced to 128 Kbps. Customers can top up to re-start their monthly billing cycle if they want to access faster 3G CDMA or LTE speeds.

"This change comes about because of the enormous data usage driven by the increasingly sophisticated smartphones we make available, and the more extensive uses customers are finding for these devices," Sprint said in a statement to PhoneScoop. "We want to be able to serve customers who use our unlimited plans for their daily activity--email, surfing the Web, social networking, photo uploading, location-based apps, etc. Our goal is to ensure our products perform at the best possible level and that we have the best possible experience for all subscribers."

This is the latest indication that Sprint is taking network management more seriously, especially for prepaid customers. Earlier this month the carrier launched Sprint Prepaid to replace the Sprint As You Go offering that Sprint launched in January 2013. Sprint As You Go launched with two plans: a $70 per month plan for smartphones that included unlimited voice, texting and data, and a $50 per month plan for feature phones that included unlimited voice, texting and data. Importantly, Sprint did not throttle the speeds of Sprint As You Go customers.

The new Sprint Prepaid service offers two plans. One is $45 per month and offers unlimited voice, texting and Wi-enabled data only. The other is $60 per month and offers unlimited voice, texting and data, though speeds will be throttled after 2.5 GB of usage and video streaming may be limited to 3G speeds.

Other carriers also throttle users' speeds instead of charging data overages. T-Mobile US (NYSE:TMUS) does so for many of its Simple Choice plans, and numerous MVNOs also throttle users' data speeds once they exceed specific data caps.

For more:
- see this PhoneScoop article
- see this PhoneDog article

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