Unlimited Data Is Really Dead Now, Like for Real (Update: But Not Really)

AT&T killed it first. Then T-Mobile. Then Verizon. Now Sprint's quietly stabbed unlimited data in the back, without warning, pomp or circumstance. Update: Haha jokes! Hesse was misquoted by Dow Jones according to TechCrunch. Seems he meant while roaming!

Update 2: Sprint's official statement:
Sprint offers smartphone users unlimited data with no throttling

Reports that Sprint throttles the top one percent of data users are false.

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.

Sprint CEO Dan Hesse has admitted that Sprint throttles the top 1 percent of data users, despite ads like this one touting that, unlike on every other carrier, "with Sprint you don't get charged extra, you don't slow down" and assurances that Sprint's unlimited data plans would seriously stick around. Not true anymore.

The report from Dow Jones:

"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.

It was only a matter of time. If AT&T and Verizon, the two biggest carriers, can't afford to endlessly shove bit after bit, byte after byte into the gaping maws of people's YouTubing, Instagramming, Rdioing smartphones without concern, how could Sprint, the carrier that claimed an AT&T-Mobile merger would utterly destroy it?

Sprint isn't throttling as many people on their "unlimited" plans as Verizon or AT&T—only the top 1 percent, not the top 5 percent. And you can still buy a plan that is ostensibly unlimited, as long as you are the 99 percent, unlike Verizon or AT&T. But literally unlimited data does not exist anymore, on any carrier in the US.

Worse though, Sprint has been possibly been outright lying about it. When did Sprint start throttling its top 1 percent of users? While those ads have been running? And why haven't they been clear about this policy before? Say what you will about Verizon and AT&T and T-Mobile, but they are upfront about their data policies.

Of course, this is where it was always going. I'm mostly surprised none of the carriers have been ballsy enough to draw on #occupy as a metaphor to make their case for dismantling the unlimited data regimes—the top 1 percent of mobile data users consume 20 percent of the data, according to Cisco, and the top 10 percent eat 60 percent of it. The easy pitch: "Why are you paying for the fatty data habits of the 1 percent?"

As one of the 5 percent (of data eaters), I'll just say it was really nice while it lasted. [Dow Jones]