Sprint Stops Throttling Data Speeds As Net Neutrality Goes Into Effect

Net neutrality only became well and truly legal on June 12, and yet already the new rules are prompting change: Sprint stopped intermittently throttling data speeds for its heaviest wireless Internet users during busy times as of Friday, the same day the Federal Communications Commission’s net-neutrality rules went into effect.

The third-largest U.S. wireless carrier is now a common carrier under Title II and as such, is not allowed to muck around with customers’ connections — no slowing down, blocking or otherwise choking.

Sprint says its policy would’ve been in line with the new rules but decided to go the route of better safe than sorry.

“Sprint doesn’t expect users to notice any significant difference in their services now that we no longer engage in the process,” a Sprint spokesman told the Wall Street Journal.

Another policy that may have run afoul of the rules has also been nixed, one that had given Sprint the right to prioritize data traffic depending on a subscriber’s plan. It hadn’t done that yet, but now it’s a non-issue so might as well chuck that one, too.

Not all carriers are having such an easy time with the FCC and its view of unlimited data plans this week: Yesterday the agency said it’s planning to fine AT&T $100 million for allegedly misleading customers about how its unlimited data plans work.

Both AT&T and Verizon Wireless stopped offering unlimited plans to new subscribers years ago, leaving only T-Mobile and Sprint to peddle those plans. A spokeswoman for T-Mobile told the WSJ the company doesn’t have a policy of throttling customers other than in extreme circumstances for network management.

Verizon tried to throttle its unlimited LTE users in 2014, but walked that one back after ticking off customers and getting a stern eye from the FCC.

The first company to be accused of violating the new neutrality rules isn’t a wireless provider, however. That honor goes to Time Warner Cable, which has been accused of trying to make a webcam company pay more to stream its various livestreams in the San Diego area.

An Early Net-Neutrality Win: Rules Prompt Sprint to Stop Throttling [Wall Street Journal]