Sprint called its practice of throttling video, SmartStream. Supposedly the throttling was done to keep users from running through their high speed data too quickly. While it did undoubtedly cut data consumption it also meant that high quality videos weren't very high quality any more as streaming servers dialed back video quality to fit the reduced bandwidth.
In June of this year Boost Mobile announced that users could disable the video speed throttle by choosing a new EnhancedStream option in the My Account section of the Boost Mobile website. The announcement featured the graphic above showing how Smart Stream made data last up to 15 times as long. However, many users reported that the option wasn't available to them online and customer support representatives denied that EnhancedStream even existed. The Enhanced Stream Announcement disappeared from the Boost site shortly after it appeared.
It looks like Sprint has done away with SmartStream and unilaterally lifted the video streaming speed restrictions. Here's an email that a Boost Mobile dealer received yesterday from Sprint Prepaid Group:
Subject: SPG News - Prepaid Video Streaming Controls Removed
Speed controls are no longer in place for customers.
Issue Date: Tuesday, Aug. 25, 2015
Prepaid Video Streaming Control Removed
Indirect Retail Partners:
Effective immediately, rate limitation speed controls for video data streaming have been removed for all Boost Mobile and Virgin Mobile plans. Why you ask? Prepaid customers have expressed a desire to watch videos without speed controls and we listened. Customers can now enjoy video streaming at the highest quality on their devices (for select devices, at 4G speeds where available). Please read the important information below so you can talk to your customers about the change.
Effective immediately, Boost Mobile and Virgin Mobile have removed video rate streaming limitations from all daily and monthly plans.
Effective Wednesday, Aug. 26, 2015, Boost Mobile’s $30/$35/$45/$55 Data Boost w ES Video (EnhancedStream Video) will be removed from the SPG Sales Portal.
Customers on any of the ES Video plans can remain on this plan and there is no action required by the Dealer or customer.
Indirect Retail Partners should inform customers that with the higher video speeds, customers may deplete their plans’ high-speed data allotment more quickly. This could result in customers experiencing slower data speeds (aka "throttling") for the remainder of their billing cycle sooner than their usual experience.
Suggest that customers utilize Wi-Fi for all video streaming activities when possible.
Customers can purchase data packs or restart their monthly plan to resume at higher video speeds.
SPG Sales Operations
I think this is good news for users even though it may mean increased data usage. Carriers have no business arbitrarily limiting video speeds. Users can control bandwidth usage by limiting consumption of long format and HD videos to WiFi whenever possible. In addition, most streaming video services offer lower quality video options that reduce data consumption. For example, choosing Low Quality mode in Netflix, or in YouTube by going to Settings > General and checking Limit mobile data usage will restrict videos to 480p or less when using cellular data.
Prepaid Operator Profile: Boost Mobile
Prepaid Operator Profile: Virgin Mobile
Boost Mobile Now Allowing Customers to Disable the 600 Kbps Video Throttle