Wireless carrier Sprint is backpedaling on the video streaming limits on its new All-In program. The company apparently underestimated the customer backlash that would haunt it for putting a 600 kbps maximum on the new plan.
Here’s the backstory: On Tuesday, Sprint announced the All-In wireless plan for $80 a month. The plan includes a wireless device with unlimited talk, text and high-speed data.
“If you went to a restaurant that advertised a cheeseburger for 99-cents, but when you show up, they said it’s an extra $2 for the bun or $1 for lettuce, you would feel misled,” said Marcelo Claure, Sprint CEO. “Yet, that’s what the industry has been doing with its wireless plans. Why can’t everyone just advertise the full price of both the plan and the smartphone -- an All-In plan? That was the idea behind what we’ve created.”
All-Out of Luck
With All-In, consumers pay $20 per month to lease one of the company's most popular smartphones, and $60 per month for unlimited text, talk and high-speed data while on the Sprint network.
Sounds like a great deal, so what’s the beef? Apparently, the 600 kbps limit won’t get you far. It’s not nearly enough to watch YouTube or Netflix videos, for example. So if you want to watch mobile video at all, you would be out of luck. Sprint almost immediately removed the limitations, but not necessarily the restrictions.
“At Sprint, we strive to provide customers a great experience when using our network. We heard you loud and clear, and we are removing the 600 kbps limitation on streaming video,” said Claure. “During certain times, like other wireless carriers, we might have to manage the network in order to reduce congestion and provide a better customer experience for the majority of our customers.”
Dealing with Spectrum Shortage
We asked Jeff Kagan, an independent technology analyst in Atlanta, to get his reaction to Sprint’s near-immediate change of heart. He said most likely all of the hullabaloo has to do with the spectrum shortage faced by every wireless carrier.
“As wireless spectrum is so limited, and people use more every day, something has to give,” Kagan said. “When customers learn of something they don't like, they make a stink about it and that seems to be what happened here.”
Kagan predicted the spectrum shortage will continue to grow -- and that will become a larger problem for every wireless carrier in the days ahead.
“The Sprint All-In plan sounds good, but this [limitation] didn't. Without this [limitation] the plan may very likely succeed going forward,” Kagan said. “However, the industry has to come to terms with the spectrum shortage and find some real solutions before this problem spreads further.”