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Sprint Slaps Caps

Sprint is looking to capitalize on the flap over usage-based pricing to promote its broadband service.Some net neutrality activists have been taking aim at usage-based pricing as a potential anticompetitive tool, most recently targeting AT&T over the March 12 news that it would be capping customers’ at 150 gigabytes per month–the average AT&T broadband customer uses about 18 GB per month.

“When ISPs force their customers to watch the meter, experimentation, innovation and business will suffer,” said Free Press. The FCC in its network neutrality rules acknowledged there is value in charging for heavy usage, including encouraging more efficient use, and pointing out the alternative is making lighter users subsidize the heavier ones.

Coincidentally(?), March 12 is the same date that Sprint promoted a new TV ad with its CEO Dan Hesse looking to use cap criticisms as a product differentiator and co-opting the vocabulary of usage-cap bashers.

In the ad Hesse says: “The other day, I looked up the word unlimited in the dictionary. Nowhere in the definition did I see words like metering, overage, or throttling, which is code for slowing you down. Only Sprint gives you true unlimited calling, texting, surfing, TV and navigation on all phones….Why limit yourself?”

Sounds like Sprint is limiting itself to unlimited plans, otherwise someone will face a “no new taxes” moment over the ad.

Or am I mising something?

Contributing editor John Eggerton has been an editor and/or writer on media regulation, legislation and policy for over four decades, including covering the FCC, FTC, Congress, the major media trade associations, and the federal courts. In addition to Multichannel News and Broadcasting + Cable, his work has appeared in Radio World, TV Technology, TV Fax, This Week in Consumer Electronics, Variety and the Encyclopedia Britannica.