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Sprint slaps 5GB limit on Mobile Hotspots, adds hefty fees

Sprint is parading around the mediaverse claiming the entire network is “truly unlimited” but slaps massive restrictions and overage fees on Mobile Hotspots.

Sprint surprises customers with new limits

Sprint’s recent commercial series focuses on how “truly unlimited” the Sprint Network is, featuring children disappointed by parents nearing their data limits choosing apps over their performances, like below:

[ba-youtubeflex videoid=”qFp0P_Wuftc”]

But what Sprint really means is that data is “truly unlimited” for their entire Sprint Network, except for Mobile Hotspots, after years of promoting the service, and even promoting the idea that several users can be on the same Hotspot simultaneously. The company gave users a tasted, got them hooked, and is now announcing1 that starting this month, and effective on users’ next bill, their phone or tablet’s Mobile Hotspot on-network data allowance will be limited to 5 GB. “Truly unlimited?”

Truly unlimited fail.

According to the company, the changes include:

  1. A monthly 5GB of 3G and/or 4G data allowance will apply while on the Sprint network and display on your next bill. This 5GB is in addition to your phone or tablet plan’s monthly on-network data usage.
  2. You have the option to receive notifications from Sprint as you approach the monthly 5GB on-network data allowance. See Additional Use Notifications for enrollment instructions.
  3. If you choose to continue using above the monthly 5GB on-network allowance, additional data usage charges of 5¢/MB will apply.

Sprint says that what is not changing is the monthly charge for the Mobile Hotspot, and that unlimited data usage still applies to smartphone and tablet use, just not Mobile Hotspot use. Off-network roaming data usage is a combination of Mobile Hotspot or Phone as Modem and phone or tablet and monthly data allowance stays the same: 300 MB for phones and 100 or 300 MB for tablets depending on your tablet plan. Additional off-network roaming data for tablets is 25¢/MB. Tablet customers will continue to receive off-network data usage notifications.

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Sprint says it will alert users when they have used between 75 and 90 percent of their monthly data allowance for their Mobile Hotspot, but only if they subscribe to notifications. If Sprint was not promoting how unlimited their network was, this change would be no surprise, but users will likely feel that the wool is being pulled over their eyes, especially regarding how hefty the overage charges are.

If Sprint allowed users to keep their Mobile Hotspot at the same unlimited plan for the remainder of their contract, that would also not be a problem, but because users can’t notify Sprint that they’ve decided they’ll pay 20 percent less each month because they need to conserve – Sprint would say adios, just as some people will likely do as Sprint has pulled this quick surprise without warning.

1 Sprint Announcement

Written By

Marti Trewe reports on business and technology news, chasing his passion for helping entrepreneurs and small businesses to stay well informed in the fast paced 140-character world. Marti rarely sleeps and thrives on reader news tips, especially about startups and big moves in leadership.



  1. mtamaralondon

    June 5, 2012 at 9:28 pm

    As Sprint customers we should have the option to break our contracts since obviously sprint broke thier word.

  2. mg123987

    June 6, 2012 at 8:32 am

    The hotspot feature is just that, a feature. There is no contract associated with the hotspot and can be dropped at any time. so if you can’t handle a 5 GB cap drop the feature. On a side note try going outside instead of being tethered to your phone or computer.

    • natedood

      June 6, 2012 at 10:44 am

       @mg123987 It’s not as simple as that for those of us that purchased phones and plans specifically for this offering from Sprint.  I went with Sprint because I could use this on the road, in fact, the sales person pitched it as a reason to go with Sprint.  
      If the fee’s were reasonable I wouldn’t even complain, but now I’ll pay $50 per gigabyte over the limit?!  That is just plain robbery.

  3. CharlesEarley

    June 6, 2012 at 9:53 am

    Sprint told me this is not a material change to my contract, so I am stuck with the current contract.  Sprint has eliminated discount, promised 4G service (and I actually feel lucky when I get 3G speeds) and does not have adequate capacity on Galveston Island.  They have enough during the week, during the winter, but let 500,000 tourists arrive, and try making a call or using the WiFi hotspot.  If you can get dial up speeds, you are lucky.  Unfortunately, they were the best option simply because of unlimited.  Now, I am shopping around for a new plan.

  4. natedood

    June 6, 2012 at 10:41 am

    I’m very upset.  I went with sprint because I travel a few times a month for work and using my phone as a hotspot was a perfect option for my laptop while on the road.  I’m very disappointed and will be leaving Sprint because of it. 

  5. ThomasABJohnson

    June 7, 2012 at 1:32 am

    We will start seeing more and more throttling and data up charges until data usage is optimized by all the carriers. Want an iPhone #5 this fall? Be prepared to lose your grandfathered unlimited data plan if you take the subsidized price and want LTE speeds. Right now, I think I am a long term IPhone 4s owner.

  6. anonuser

    October 3, 2012 at 11:45 am

    There is a new service called Solavei that may be a cheaper option. They run on the T-Mobile network and offer no contract service with 4G, I do think it is throttled after 4g of data per month but no extra charges.$49 per month with a plan that lets you even make money if you want too. Check out for details.

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