Protecting the 97%

October 16, 2015
Real-time prioritization protects Sprint customers against unfair users of network resources

By Dr. John Saw, Chief Technology Officer, Sprint

As we continue to improve our network, and as data usage across the industry continues to skyrocket, we’re always looking at ways to better manage our network resources and improve the customer experience.
One way we aim to make the customer experience better is to protect against the possibility that a small minority of customers might occupy an unreasonable share of network resources. With that in mind, we are introducing a new Quality of Service (QoS) practice that applies to customers who choose an unlimited data handset plan launched Oct. 16, 2015, or after, or customers who choose to upgrade their handset on or after Oct. 16 and remain on an existing unlimited data plan. For these customers, if they use more than 23GB of data during a billing cycle, they will be prioritized on the network below other customers for the remainder of their billing cycle, only in times and locations where the network is constrained. (These customers will still be able to use unlimited amounts of data without the worry of overage charges.)
This QoS practice is intended to protect against a small minority of unlimited customers who use high volumes of data and unreasonably take-up network resources during times when the network is constrained. It’s important to note that this QoS technique operates in real-time and only applies if a cell site is constrained. Prioritization is applied or removed every 20 milliseconds. And performance for the affected customer returns to normal as soon as traffic on the cell site also returns to normal, or the customer moves to a non-constrained site.
The 23GB threshold is typical in the industry and other carriers have already implemented a similar practice. We agree this is a smart approach towards making sure a small number of customers don’t adversely impact the experience for others. Today approximately three percent of our postpaid subscribers are using overwhelmingly disproportionate network resources. Our goal with QoS is to prevent some portion of that three percent going forward from negatively impacting the other 97 percent of customers.
So just how much is 23GB of data? With 23GB of data you can send 6,000 emails with attachments, and view 1,500 web pages, and post 600 photos, and stream 60 hours of music, and stream 50 hours of video each and every month. That’s a lot of data, and it’s far more than most customers ever use in a typical billing cycle.
Today’s wireless networks are sophisticated and complex, but what our customers want is simple – to access their information and entertainment with a simple click. To make this happen, we’ll continue to take a responsible and thoughtful approach in how we manage our network resources. Whether we’re adding capacity to a cell site, upgrading our network to deliver even faster speeds, or implementing today’s QoS technique, our goal is simple – to provide a great network experience to our customers.