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TracFone clarifies throttling limits for Straight Talk, Net10 brands

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América Móvil's U.S. MVNO TracFone Wireless provided some clarity to its data throttling policies for its Straight Talk and Net10 brands, explaining that it will throttle subscribers down to 2G speeds after they use 2.5 GB of data.

A TracFone spokeswoman said in a statement that Straight Talk's 30-day $45 "unlimited" plans and $60 "unlimited international long" plans include 2.5 GB of high-speed data. "After reaching that usage, data will continue at 2G speeds for the remainder of the 30-day cycle," she said. "High speed data is restored once a new 30-day service plan is added. For further information refer to StraightTalk.com." The company said ii reserves the right to terminate service for "unauthorized or abnormal usage," as many wireless carriers do.

TracFone made a similar disclosure for the $50 and $65 plans it offers through Net10. In August, TracFone confirmed it was bringing back unlimited data plans to customers who use a SIM card for AT&T Mobility's (NYSE:T) network.

The disclosures come after TracFone and Walmart, which sells the Straight Talk brand, were sued in a proposed class action lawsuit in federal court in California, with the plaintiffs alleging that the companies falsely advertise Straight Talk as providing unlimited data service when the plans actually throttle users' speeds.

In an April company blog post, Straight Talk denied claims that it only offers users 1.5 GB of data per month.

"You may have heard rumors online that there is a hard cap of 1.5 GB for data on Straight Talk," the company wrote. "We want to clear this up for you right away: We are NOT cutting off data at 1.5 GB on Straight Talk. The data limit in reference only applies to Bring Your Own Phone (BYOP™) AT&T-compatible SIMs on our sister brand, NET10. In fact, most of our customers enjoy their unlimited data plans with no issues or complaints regarding their data speeds or service. Please see sections seven and eight of Straight Talk's terms and conditions for full details." (The bolding and links were included in Straight Talk's original post.)

In its post, Straight Talk also offered hints on how users can limit their data consumption, including switching to Wi-Fi when available and employing data-management apps like Onavo.

A TracFone spokesman clarified today that the newly disclosed throttling policy applies to all Straight Talk and Net10 BYOP products as well as all carrier-compatible SIMs, including the Net10 BYOP with AT&T-compatible phones. He also said there is no cap on Net10 and Straight Talk BYOP carrier-compatible SIMs, including all Net10 AT&T compatible SIMs.

The new disclosures make clear that there was not a 1.5 GB cap on usage, as rumors had indicated but the company never fully clarified its data throttling policies. The newly disclosed policies did not mention service from any specific carrier. TracFone uses Verizon Wireless (NYSE:VZ), AT&T Mobility (NYSE:T), Sprint  (NYSE:S) and T-Mobile US (NYSE:TMUS) networks. The company is the largest U.S. MVNO by far, with roughly 23 million customers as of the end of the second quarter.

For more:
- see this PhoneNews article

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