Researchers Find Sprint Is Throttling Skype Without Telling Consumers

A study by Northeastern University and the University of Massachusetts find that Sprint is throttling Skype without informing consumers adequately.

The findings come from David Choffnes. Choffnes developed the app Wehe that being used to track how wireless carriers are treating user data in the wake of the repeal of net neutrality rules last June.

100,000 users across 135 countries conducted more than 719,417 tests and discovered  that wireless carriers routinely throttle streaming video applications. Carriers often claim this only occurs in response to network congestion, but the evidence suggests it is often tied to getting people to pay more money.

Researchers found it’s not just video that’s being throttled. The latest analysis of Wehe data found that Sprint and its subsidiary Boost Mobile are also restricting Skype over their networks. The throttling occurred in 34 percent of tests run between January 18 and October 15 of this year.

Sprint’s throttling does not appear to be a direct response to handling heavy traffic on the network. We could not find Skype throttling disclosed anywhere on their site. Yet Sprint users might find their Skype video calls operating at a lower quality all the same. Sprint has denied throttling Skype when contacted by journalists.

When an Internet providers target a service for throttling, the playing field can tilt in favor of one service over another. It’s likely that people will see a lot more restrictions placed on their broadband connections. Some designed to simply cut corners; others designed to extract even more money from people.



Image: “Skype killer” by Tsahi Levent-Levi is licensed underCC BY 2.0