Even Sprint’s “Truly Unlimited” Plan Isn’t Truly Unlimited (Update: Hesse was misquoted)

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Watch the video up above. Note the end:

“Truly Unlimited Data for your iPhone. The only national carrier with no throttling, no metering, no overages”

Also watch:

Now, read this bit from the Dow Jones Newswire, quoting Sprint CEO Dan Hesse on an investor call today:

“For those that want to abuse it, we can knock them off,” Hesse said at an investor conference Thursday. He said Sprint pares back data use for about 1% of users, a practice known as throttling.

Something doesn’t quite match up here.

There was a point when “Unlimited” actually seemed to mean “Unlimited” — then AT&T, Verizon, and the rest (save Sprint) all changed the definition of “Unlimited”. Sprint jumped at the opportunity, highlighting their plan as the one and only “Truly Unlimited” plan. It seems even the definition of “truly” has changed. (See update below.)

Of course, a “truly” unlimited plan isn’t at all feasible — data costs money, and when 1% of your user base is costing you as much as the next 10%, or 20%, or 50%, you have a problem. But if you’re going to have the gall to call out the competition and outright claim “No throttling, no metering, no overages” in your advertisement, you should probably, you know, not do those things.

Update: It seems the Dow Jones report left a key word out: roaming. I went and found a recording of the investor call and listened myself; Dan Hesse definitely squeezed the word in there, suggesting that Sprint will only consider it abuse when you go data-crazy on a partnered network that isn’t actually theirs (Hesse cites “a guy in his house in rural Montana” as an example). Sprint’s fine print, for what it’s worth, says they can start capping after 300 MB of “off-network” data usage.

Update #2: Sprint has released a comment on the matter:

Sprint does not throttle any postpaid phone data users for on-network or off-network usage. Sprint is the only national carrier offering smartphone users truly unlimited data with no throttling, metering or overages while on the Sprint network.

Sprint does have terms and conditions which prohibit certain types of data use that may impair other customers’ usage or harm or interfere with the network. At yesterday’s investor conference, Sprint CEO Dan Hesse was referring to Sprint’s right to terminate service of data abusers who violate Sprint’s terms and conditions. Customers who abuse our network by violating the terms and conditions will be contacted by Sprint in an effort to have the customer change their usage to comply with their subscriber agreement. Customers who do not change their usage and remain in violation of the terms and conditions may be subject to actions reserved by Sprint, including but not limited to termination. Consistent with our advertising, engaging in such uses will not result in throttling for customers on unlimited data-included plans for phones.