Within hours of launching its new, unlimited “All In” wireless data offering on Tuesday, Sprint backed off of its related policy to slow or “throttle” the network transmission speeds of plan subscribers when they attempt to download videos. Serving as a replacement for Sprint’s previous $50-per-month unlimited offering, All In provides unlimited voice, messaging and data at a monthly rate of $80 that covers both the service and a two-year lease on the subscriber’s choice of three smart phones—iPhone 6, Galaxy S6 or HTC One M9. Although Sprint recently announced that it would discontinue its practice of throttling the download speeds of its heaviest data users in compliance with provisions of the FCC’s Open Internet order that went into effect on June 12, prospective All In subscribers immediately objected to a footnote in the service terms indicating that video would be delivered at third-generation network speeds, which Sprint acknowledged could “impact quality.” The resulting backlash induced Sprint later on Tuesday to withdraw the video throttling policy as company CEO Marcelo Claure informed the public: “we heard you loud and clear.”
In an accompanying press statement, Sprint reminded its customers that, “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.” While the Open Internet order prohibits carriers from blocking or degrading lawful web transmissions or discriminating in the transmission of lawful web content, FCC rules allow carriers to conduct certain network management practices that are technical in nature and that are intended to promote efficient network operations for the benefit of all subscribers. Officials at the FCC, meanwhile, offered no comment.