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Updated: Straight Talk Confirms That They Do Throttle Data

According to FierceWireless, an unnamed Straight Talk spokesperson has confirmed that the company does slow down or "throttle" data speeds of users who use "excessive" data on its "unlimited" prepaid service. The representative said that Straight Talk will call and warn the user before the slow down is imposed and that data consumption is evaluated on a case by case basis and there is no specific limit on data usage. Continuous video streaming and tethering were given as examples of prohiPCMagbited usage that could lead to throttling.

The Straight Talk spokesperson emphasized that the vast majority of users do not experience throttling.

A number of users have reported being throttled to speeds of about 128 Kbps after using more than approximately 100 MB of data in a day or 2 GB in a plan month. Some received warning calls before being throttled but many say they did not.

The Straight Talk representative also confirmed that the personal hotspot feature is disabled on the iPhones that Straight Talk sells. That's no surprise as Straight Talk's Android phones always shipped with Android's built in Wi-Fi hotspot feature disabled.

It's good to see Straight Talk come clean on tethering even if only partially. Still I'd like them to follow the example of Sprint's Boost and Virgin Mobile brands and explicitly state both the throttle point and throttled speed.

Update: PCMag.com's Sascha Segan has also been covering the hidden limits with Straight Talk's "Unlimited" service.

Ignore the link-bait title, it's not a crime to violate a company's TOS, and read Sascha's post, How Straight Talk's TOS Makes Most iPhone Users Criminals. In it, he lays bare how illogical and restrictive Straight Talk's terms are.

The post even got a rare response from the normally reclusive Straight Talk management, Straight Talk Responds to 'Unlimited' Complaints. In it Straight Talk claimed;
"...there is no prohibition against downloading movies, watching live TV or other live video"
Of course, as Sascha, points out, that contradicts the company's own terms of service. Straight Talk's response also confirmed that the decision to throttle or terminate a user's  service is made on a case by case basis;
"...we do not have fixed thresholds for throttling or deactivation like some of the other carriers. Rather, we are continuously monitoring our customers’ usage and will adjust thresholds as necessary in order to maximize all of our customers' experience."
While that makes sense from a network management perspective, it leaves the poor user completely in the dark as to whether their usage is acceptable or subject to being throttled or cut off at any moment.

Sources: FierceWireless via PhoneNews, PCMag

18 comments:

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  1. At least they no longer disconnect you all together, like they used to do when you used too many minutes and text....I think the FCC should prohibit the use of the word "UNLIMITED", and instead force the cell companies to use specific minutes/text/data allowance.

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    1. How do you figure the FCC should limit or ban the use of the word unlimited? Just because carriers like Straight Talk throttle data doesn't mean they are charging overages for data. They could if they wanted to. But their services are still unlimited despite slower speeds. Yeah they should advertise this in big bold letters.

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  2. Anyhow, the FTC (not the FCC) would regulate advertising. The FTC should go after those using liberal definitions of the word unlimited. It is not truly unlimited.

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    1. If you read the contracts, unlimited is clearly defined.
      The FTC is not going to act against the company because somebody does not like the definition they agreed to when they entered into the contract.

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  3. People see "unlimited everything" and $45 they don't think about overages, caps, throttling. So they are caught off guard. The only truly unlimited option anymore for nonthrottled data is Tmobile's new $70 plan. I expect that to be a huge hit for those willing to pay a bit more to avoid surprises. Considering Page Plus's $69 plan is a hit even with only 5 gigs and no 4g (yeah, coverage compensates). , I don't see why the Tmo 70 plan can't be either , especially in areas refarmed to support iphone/Att gsm frequencies. You pay more and get a lot more. Unlimited vs 1 gig to 3 is no contest, even at $20 difference if you really are that heavy a user.

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    1. Is T-mobile unlimited data using LTE technology or their old 4G technology?

      As for unlimited data on a smartphone, I couldn't see myself using more than 2 to 3 GB unless I was using it as a mobile hotspot. I really don't enjoy watching a movie on a small screen. The smallest screen that I find acceptable would be an iPad Mini.

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    2. T-Mobile won't start rolling out LTE until later this year.

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  4. Not sure why this is news. Straight Talk/Net10 has been talking about throttling data on their chat board for months.

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    1. Chat board? Do you mean straighttalkwirelessforum.com/? All I see there is users complaining about being throttled followed by a moderator saying "I’m going to try to help you now. We need to take this issue offline so I can address it further. I’ll contact you directly through a private message."

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    2. It is certainly news to some who post on this blog site that they have never been throttled on StraightTalk, implying that people should not worry about it.

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  5. Love that reply yeswap!

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  6. Being open about throttling or not, I still think Straight Talk is the best bang for your buck. I won't complain because I'm only paying $45. I just use WiFi when available and make sure I stay within the limits. Would help them with retention if they published their limits though.

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    1. If you really want bang for your buck and no throttling, you should consider Solavei for only $4 more. You also get voice and data roaming. Sign up 3 friends and your net monthly price drops to $29. Can you beat that?

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    2. Correction: Solavei throttles after 4 GB in a billing cycle. Full speed again at beginning of next cycle. 4GB is a lot more than 2, so it is still a better value at $49, IMO.

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    3. GoSmartMobile @$45/month offers 5GB before major throttling.
      ~900 Mbps is faster than the Vzw 3G network used by ST for many users.

      More bang for your buck.

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    4. A few friends have/had Solavei. After taxes and fees it comes out to about $60/month. Throttling doesn't bother me, as I never get throttled. I use maybe 1 GB a month on a heavy usage month. I am usually on Wi-Fi. Straight Talk I think is pound for pound the best prepaid plan out there. I don't have to spam the world like Solavei users do, to get referrals.

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  7. T-Mobile is using HSPA+, not LTE.

    Straight Talk probably won't publish the facts because they could actually lose business by doing so. If they came out and said "We throttle you after x amount per day/month, then people would more easily be able to do a definitive comparison against other prepaid carriers. They'd rather make it nebulous than give people something concrete.

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  8. Straight Talk is trash! Shouldn't be a cap if its not specified and marketed "unlimited". Period. It should be illegal and sued for false advertisement and illegal binding to stipulations not unknown to either party. Sounds like BS to me.

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