Update: Dow Jones misunderstood Hesse. The data throttling is only applied to the Sprint data users that use too much data when they are using the data roaming feature abroad. It doesn’t refer to the raw data usage itself.

Sprint was the first cell phone company to brag about their unlimited data plans in the arrival of the iPhone 4S in their hands. They also like to brag in the commercials about how they offer truly unlimited data. Well folks, even in the smallest number that it is, that appears to be a lie – one percent of the top Sprint data users are actually throttled on the spot, as Sprint CEO Dan Hesse confirms.

As we know, AT&T, T-Mobile, and Verizon all throttle their heaviest users. It’s a practice that is commonly used by cell phone companies to help lower data traffic and also to keep people from using excessive amounts of data. The people who use the network for things like video streaming, tethering, and other heavy data eaters are the most likely to face this discipline. It doesn’t mean that just because you use your network that you’ll be throttled, but the people using 20GB or more a month really are using the data too much. From regular use on a phone, I find it pretty hard to come anywhere near 2GB. (Jeez what are you people doing with your data?)

Now that Sprint has officially admitted to throttling their top one percent of data users, all of the top cell phone companies in America are now guilty of it. We knew it was coming, but what we weren’t expecting was for Sprint to advertise truly unlimited data and be caught lying about it. This is especially so with all of the bragging and enthusiasm that came from Sprint with the release of the iPhone 4S on their network last year.

With the news that Sprint is no longer ‘truly’ unlimited in the sense that if you’re one of the top users, you’ll be turned down, it might still not be enough to make Sprint look bad. Sprint only throttles the top one percent – which isn’t enough to worry about. Additionally, they still offer unlimited data – even when you’re throttled. This means no overages. Other phone companies on the other hand, have all implemented caps on their data plans. Unlimited users who are grandfathered in are throttled, but the percentage on those networks is much higher than one percent.

Sources: Electronista (MacRumors for the updated information about roaming)


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