Sprint confirms it's implementing data usage caps

A number of Sprint mobile broadband users have shown their disgust over an internal memo that indicated the company has placed a cap on its mobile broadband service.

In an e-mail and phone correspondence with BetaNews, Sprint officials discussed the reasoning behind its decision to implement a 5 GB per month overall use cap, and 300 MB per month for off-network roaming.

"Sprint is continually working to ensure a great customer experience that is available to all of its customers. Efficiently managing our wireless network is a big part of our commitment," a Sprint spokesperson told us. "The use of voice and data roaming by a small minority of customers is generating a disproportionately large level of operating expense for the company. We are enforcing the existing terms and conditions for phone plans. We are placing a limit of 300 MB per month on the amount of data use allowed while roaming off network as well as a 5 GB per month limitation on total wireless data usage for Sprint's connection and phone as modem plans."

"This limit is well within the range of what a typical customer would normally use each month." Sprint declined to disclose the amount of data a "typical customer" uses per month.

Unconfirmed reports earlier in the day inaccurately stated Sprint put the cap in place to help make a transition towards the future, in which it plans to launch its WiMAX 4G network before the end of the year. Assuming its Xohm WiMAX network can launch in Baltimore and Washington, DC as scheduled, Sprint will beat out both Verizon Wireless and AT&T, which plan to launch their 4G networks in 2009.

The company is now making an "extensive effort" to inform its customers about the pending changes, and to allow them to "change their usage habits before exploring any available options under the terms and conditions."

Existing customers are being notified about the change through messages attached to their bills that Sprint began mailing three days ago. The changes take effect 30 days upon receipt of the note. Starting in June, company officials will call customers to ensure they understand the changes made and to help better identify when they are roaming.

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