priceofliberty: Today, Sprint dispensed with all subtlety. Without any pretense of net neutrality whatsoever, the carrier unveiled a plan that limits subscriber access to social media websites and streaming music, depending on the tier. The Virgin Mobile Custom plan, sold under Sprint’s Virgin Mobile brand, provides access to one of four social media services - Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, or Pinterest - for $12 a month. An additional $10 will net unlimited use of all four, while $5 more grants unlimited streaming from any one music app. The base plan also includes 20 minutes of talk time and 20 texts, both of which can be upgraded. Lines start at $6.98 a month, $5 extra for “unlimited” access. Plans can be adjusted on the fly, even daily if so desired. The plan, President of Prepaid at Sprint Dow Draper told the Wall Street Journal, isn’t currently part of a promotion - none of the companies featured are subsidizing connection costs, unlike AT&T’s Sponsored Data program, but he said “it’s definitely possible” down the road.
The new plan embodies the anti-net neutrality schemes advocates have been warning about for years. Instead of allowing data to flow unimpeded, Virgin Mobile Custom very clearly discriminates against a huge number of apps, ultimately segregating them to more expensive data plans. If Sprint’s goal, as Mr. Draper implies, is to provide the Internet at palatable prices for poorer consumers, perhaps unrestricted access to any app with a small data cap might be more appropriate. Heck, T-Mobile does it free for tablets - why can’t Sprint for prepaid phones? These plans will be made available through Walmart beginning August 9. Supported handsets include the LG Unify, LG Pulse, and ZTE Emblem.
Hey, cable got away with it thirty years ago - before that TV over the airwaves was free to anyone with a television and and antenna. No subscriptions, no monthly fees.