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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.

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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.

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

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.

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7 Comments

7 Comments

  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 https://bestcellphoneplans4g.com for details.

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Tech Gadgets

New device stops your smart speaker from listening without a safe word

(TECH GADGETS) Don’t like your smart devices spying on you? There might just be a solution. Paranoid is a device that stands between you and companies listening to you.

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Paranoid smart speaker

Okay, I’m the first to admit I do not trust smart home devices. Between the threat of corporations, hackers and the government all potentially tapping into private information, there’s a lot to be worried about. There’s something disquieting about random Amazon employees listening to my conversations, y’know?

That said…I still sometimes wish for voice activated devices. What can I say, they’re convenient. It would be nice to command my speaker to change the song when my hands are covered in flour or something.

Turns out, I’m not the only one who wishes for a smart speaker that wasn’t always listening in.

Paranoid, which hails from major security company Pleasant Solutions, will serve as a way for you to have your cake and eat it too. Or, in this case, have your smart device and cut down on its ability to spy.

How does it work? Essentially, Paranoid keeps a device from listening in until you say the safe word – “paranoid” – in which case it allows your smart device to listen to your command. For most devices, Paranoid will provide you with a device that easily attaches to your speaker and either jams the speaker or engages the mute button until you want to use the device. More complicated devices can be sent to Paranoid for internal alterations that will provide something similar.

For the moment, Paranoid only services specific models of Amazon and Google speakers, though they hope to expand to tackle any smart speaker on the market.

Of course, if you’re as wary as me, you’re probably aware that this just means Paranoid will be spying on you instead. (My first thought was seriously “out of the frying pan into the fire” when I learned about Paranoid’s technology.) I was relieved to learn, though, that unlike the smart devices, Paranoid doesn’t connect to the cloud. It doesn’t even connect to the internet, which means you don’t have to worry about anyone hacking into the system.

The initial devices will cost $49 USD each. Sure, this could double the price of a cheap smart home speaker, but when the alternative is potentially allowing almost anyone to listen in to your private conversations? I’d say it’s worth it.

This article was first published on February 05, 2020.

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Tech Gadgets

COVID-19 killing robots are on the loose

(TECH GADGETS) Robots are helping disinfect hospitals and airplanes and reduce contact between healthcare workers and infected people to slow down the COVID-19 spread.

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xenex lightstrike

Don’t fear the robot takeover! What if the robots are here to save us instead? Xenex germicidal UV-light radiating robots may help save us from the COVID-19 pandemic. These no-touch disinfecting robots are already in use in hundreds of hospitals, and have been helping reduce healthcare associated infections (HAIs) for years.

Xenex LightStrike Germ-Zapping Robots can disinfect various spaces, including hospital rooms, aircrafts or larger public areas, such as schools or malls–and quickly. In fact, these Germ-Zapping Robots have been leading the way in fighting HAIs since the prototype was launched in 2010. They help reduce MERS and staph infections, and helped hospitals disinfect rooms and equipment during the most recent Ebola outbreak.

Two infectious disease epidemiologists, Dr. Julie Stachowiak and Dr. Mark Stibich, who earned their doctorates at Johns Hopkins University, came up with the idea for these no-touch disinfecting robots. The robots work by emitting pulsed xenon UV light that can disinfect a hospital room in minutes.

In an ideal scenario, the robots disinfect a room after a manual cleaning. However, with the high rate of infection to healthcare workers dealing with COVID-19, Xenex Germ-Zapping Robots can disinfect an area both before and after manual cleaning. They usually cost around $100,00 each, though in the long term they save hospitals money due to reduced HAI occurrences.

The company reportedly is offering to lend the robots for free to select, high risk areas. CEO Morris Miller offered to lend one to disinfect San Antonio’s North Star Mall after a confirmed coronavirus patient was released, before having another test come back positive. She had gone to the mall in the meantime. San Antonio is not only the company’s home base, but also where Lackland Air Force Base is testing, quarantining, and treating patients with confirmed COVID-19 cases.

Xenex and public health officials are also discussing how to get them to China and other places where the need is greatest. More than 500 hospitals already had these robots in use before COVID-19 reared its ugly, crowned head.

Another company with a similar concept, specifically targeted at disinfecting airplanes between flights, is Dimer UVC Innovations, with the GermFalcon robots. Dimer has offered their robots for free to at least one airline running international flights in its home base, Los Angeles.

Now that the virus has spread to several other countries, with new hotspots appearing weekly, both Xenex and Dimer are hopefully expanding these offers to help in the interest of public health. Imagine being able to disinfect schools, libraries, and office buildings as well as hospitals, clinics, and airplanes.

More traditionally-conceived service robots are serving to bring food and medical supplies to COVID-19 patients in China to minimize person-to-person contact. Vici is another robot, a telehealth device on wheels. Vici allows healthcare providers to communicate with and observe patients without being in personal contact. Reducing interaction with infected people is crucial. The tragically high rate of healthcare workers, especially in Wuhan, who contracted COVID-19 after caring for patients has made that clear.

COVID-19 has led experts to strongly encourage social isolation as the safest, smartest way to avoid catching the novel coronavirus. Social isolation should also help flatten the curve, or slow down the spread enough for medical resources to keep up with need.

Bring on the robots, y’all. Modern problems require modern solutions, after all. So you’d better learn to speak robot – it’s time. BEEP BOOP BLORP – ZARRP.

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Tech Gadgets

Consumers spend big on smart speakers, but small through them

(TECH GADGETS) Smart speaker manufacturers expected results from the purchase of goods via audio. The consumers results speak for themselves, people want to see products

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consumers speaker

Remember when Amazon came out with their “innovative” new idea – – the Dash button? We reported on it a few years ago.

Well, just in case you need a refresher, Amazon created a physical representation of their digital “buy” button in an effort to make buying items from Amazon easier, especially related to items most frequently purchased (like laundry pods and toilet paper). The goal was to provide customers a way to put a sort of reminder next to their frequently purchased items, and press it when they realize they need to order more.

At first, everyone thought this was a great idea… until the price tag and the product’s limitations were shown.

These “buttons” were made of inexpensive plastic and sold for a whopping $4.99 a piece. Not only that, but each button was specific to a certain item, so you couldn’t just buy one Dash – you had to buy one for every item you bought regularly.

That means, depending on what you bought on a regular basis, a single person could have hundreds of these Dash buttons all around their house, making this strategy very unsophisticated and inefficient.

Amazon hasn’t completely abandoned their Dash buttons, as I’m sure they have users here and there, but they definitely have moved on through their Amazon speakers, guided by Alexa, an AI, and they’re not alone. However, for the remainder of this story, given their general popularity and “household name” status, I’ll use Amazon as my prime example.

Now, don’t get me wrong, smart speakers like the Echo are usually satisfactory, at least from a musical perspective, and Alexa does listen pretty well and has some pretty nifty tricks up her preverbal sleeve, but “she” does have her shortcomings.

Let me start by saying that Alexa-based devices, to me, have negatives that far outweigh the positives.

My main reason for opting out of owning an Echo or another smart speaker is the fact that Alexa is always listening. It’s creepy to me, and to many others, but Amazon lives and dies by this strategy when it comes to its Alexa products.

They’re so invested in this feature because they had high hopes that people would use Alexa for far more than obtaining recipes, setting a timer, or reading the news to you (here’s a quick list of what Alexa can currently do, as reported by The Daily Sound). One of these said features is the ability to purchase items through their voice-activated, Alexa-based devices.

Well, I can officially say from a consumer’s perspective that they failed. According to eMarketer, “while some US consumers are warming to the idea of making voice-based purchases via smart speakers, the number of those doing so is smaller than initially estimated.”

But,why? Well, the answer makes perfect sense!

No one wants to buy what they can’t see. If you’ve ever worked in telemarketing or phone-based sales in any way, you know this is true. Having worked in retail in my early professional years, I can say with complete confidence that most consumers prefer to buy what they can see and feel, and if they can’t feel it (ie: eCommerce), they sure as heck want lots of photos and videos showing it off. It’s a fact that people would much prefer a tiny screen with some visuals than something with zero visuals.

In fact, eMarketer goes on to say: “The absence of screens on many smart speaker models is an added aspect of this problem – people often want to see products before a purchase. As a result, some voice buyers are instead opting to make purchases with other voice-controlled devices that have screens, such as smartphones and tablets.”

So what did Amazon really think would happen when they completely stomped on the normal buying process (ie: seeing is believing) by removing all visuals, and instead replacing it with something akin to ordering burgers in a drive through without a menu present? Could this just be a mass experiment, using consumers as guinea pigs while they try to find a new outlet for sales?

It’s possible! After all, Amazon is a marketing machine and if you work in marketing, you know you must perform tests to find out what yielded the best results.

But as both a marketer and a consumer, I digress.

In addition, consumers are also concerned about payment and privacy via a total voice-based transaction. But that doesn’t stop everyone from using the system completely. That said, the privacy concern is real: there’s even a bracelet you can buy to jam Alexa’s microphones.

Of course, there are still reasons to get an Alexa device, but for the time being, people really just don’t trust an audio-based ordering system with no visuals.

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