Sprint: Our 'unlimited' mobe plan has one tiny limit: High-quality video

600Kbps cap strangles streaming to snail's pace

US phone carrier Sprint is offering an unlimited data plan that carries one important caveat: throttled data rates for video.

The carrier's All-In smartphone plan charges users $80 per month with no limit on voice or data usage. Streaming video, however, will be slowed to a crawl, thanks to a limit holding video to "3G" data speeds.

"Streaming video speeds will be limited to 600Kbps at all times, which may impact quality," Sprint says of the plan.

Speeds of 600Kbps will hardly be adequate for most video streaming services. Both Hulu and Netflix suggest a connection speed of at least 1.5Mbps – more than double Sprint's streaming cap – in order to properly view video content.

All other data content will be unlimited and not subject to any imposed caps on connection speeds, according to Sprint. The carrier says that, on average, its LTE connections clock in at 3-6Mbps with peaks of more than 10Mbps.

The "3G" classification for the video speeds is also a bit generous of Sprint. It lists its 3G speeds as ranging from 600Kbps to 1.4Mbps, meaning video would only run at data rates on the low end of the last-gen wireless broadband network.

According to its most recent quarterly report [PDF], Sprint has 56.1 million customers on its wireless network, adding 1.2 million new subscribers during the quarter.

El Reg contacted Sprint as to why video is being singled out for throttling, but have yet to hear back at the time of publication.

The promotion runs through August 6 in the US. ®

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