Tammy Parker reports to FierceWireless that "Sprint's pledge of unlimited data [see "Will New Competition Drive AT&T to Bring Back Unlimited Data?" - here and "Sprint CEO: 'we have no plans go to tiered data pricing'" - here] is looking increasingly less sustainable, as the carrier maneuvers to rein in network traffic generated by its heaviest data users and ensure quality of service for the majority of its customers. Postpaid as well as prepaid Sprint customers, including those on its Virgin Mobile USA and Boost Mobile sub-brands, have begun receiving notices alerting them to new data "prioritization management" the operator will employ as of next month to prevent network congestion .. Prioritization can include a reduction of throughput or speed for those targeted users connected to congested sites".
Sprint's "Open Internet Information" page (here) says that
- Sprint uses various tools and techniques to manage its network .. Sprint's network management activities may include identifying spam and preventing its delivery to customers, detecting malicious Internet traffic and preventing the distribution of viruses or other harmful code or content, allocating spectrum and network resources amongst customers, devices, and price plans, and using other tools and techniques to deliver the best possible broadband Internet experience of Sprint's customers
- Network bandwidth isn't infinite. In times of network congestion, the network segment or sector impacted doesn't have enough bandwidth to fully serve all customers requesting it. The network is designed to dynamically allocate available bandwidth in a way that is fair to all users. The fairness algorithms below describe the approach. The resulting impact to the end-user experience is that the user may temporarily experience slower-than-normal data speeds until the congestion has passed.
- On the Sprint 3G (CDMA) and 4G LTE networks, Sprint uses a proportional fairness scheduler algorithm that allocates network resources based on radio frequency signal quality and other metrics. During times of congestion, the proportional fairness scheduler algorithm ensures no one user is deprived of network resources.
- On Sprint's 4G WIMAX network, Sprint may periodically measure a user's bandwidth usage on a specific network segment or sector, as compared to the overall bandwidth usage for all users on that segment or sector. At times when an individual user is consuming high amounts of bandwidth and at the same time the overall bandwidth is being used by all users on that network segment or sector at high levels, Sprint 4G customers may experience a temporary adjustment in available network resources until the conditions for network congestion have passed.
- Sprint currently employs prioritization to improve data experience for the vast majority of users on Sprint’s CDMA and LTE networks. The heaviest data users consume a disproportionate share of network resources and cause a negative user experience for the rest. To more fairly allocate network resources in times of congestion, customers falling within the top 5% of data users may be prioritized below other customers attempting to access network resources, resulting in a reduction of throughput or speed as compared to performance on non-congested sites .. in addition to the heavy user treatment outlined above, Sprint also reserves the right to alter the priority of other customers on specific devices or plans on the Sprint network. Customers on devices or plans subject to prioritization management may experience a reduction in throughput or speed
- Optimization is deployed for RTSP and HTTP video traffic and all HTTP web traffic [by Citrix/Bytemobile - here]. Video optimization uses four basic technologies [see "Sprint Migrates from a "Basket of Tools" to Consolidated Video Optimization Solutions" - here]:
- Video Delivery Synchronization: Delivers video "just in time" to the mobile device. Intent is to eliminate network waste associated with transmitting video that isn't watched.
- Quality Aware Transcoding: Matches video quality with network conditions in real time. Optimizes video for the bandwidth available to the user. Intent is to minimize or eliminate annoying video stalling. Similar in concept to the optimization techniques already employed by sites using adaptive streaming.
- Video Transcoding: Transcodes video with intent to optimize the video experience for the user while efficiently using network bandwidth. Provides for the elimination of video waste using techniques like replacing less efficient video codecs with more efficient ones. Optimizes video for the mobile device the customer is using.
- Intelligent Caching: Caches optimized video in the network with the intent of eliminating delay associated with internet video sites.
- Web optimization uses three basic technologies:
- Caching: Caches web pages to help avoid delays associated with retrieval of the same internet content multiple times.
- Text/Binary Compression: Lossless compression of data and binary files using standard compression techniques supported by HTTP-compliant browsers.
- Image Compression: JPEG and GIF compression designed to reduce the size of images while maintaining no user perceptible loss of quality.