Sprint has been throttling Skype, researchers say

Sprint has been throttling Skype, researchers say
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Sprint has been throttling data used by Microsoft-owned Skype, according to a new study conducted by researchers at Northeastern University and the University of Massachusetts.

The ongoing study uses data from consumers who downloaded the researchers’ Wehe app, which tracks wireless providers practices in the wake of the Federal Communications Commission’s repeal of Obama-era net neutrality rules.

“In short, net neutrality violations are rampant, and have been since we launched Wehe,” the researchers said. “Taken together, our findings indicate that the openness and fairness properties that led to the Internet's success are at risk in the US."

The research found that the rate of throttling was consistent throughout the day and didn’t change based on the location of the user.

The 2015 net neutrality rules, which came off the books in June after being repealed by the FCC last year in a party-line vote, prohibited internet service providers from throttling data.

The Wehe researchers found that all the providers who had been throttling were doing so while the 2015 rules were still in effect, and that throttling was widespread among wireless providers overall.

The researchers noted that Skype relies on Sprint’s data network to reach its customers, but the two companies also directly compete with each other’s telephone services.

They added that they could not reproduce the crowd-sourced results when running their own tests on a Sprint data plan, leading them to assume that the throttling was only occurring on certain types of plans.

“Sprint does not single out Skype or any individual content provider in this way,” Lisa Belot, a spokeswoman for the company, said in an emailed statement. “Since the researchers did not provide the data they used, it is not clear how they reached their conclusions. And, they noted they were unable to reproduce the results of the users’ data themselves. All we can say with certainty is that we are not throttling Skype, and our own network tests found no degradation in Skype user experience.”

Democrats who have been vocal opponents of the FCC’s repeal of the net neutrality regulations seized on the study.

“Wireless carriers said they didn’t need #NetNeutrality rules and promised to self-enforce,” Sen. Ed MarkeyEdward (Ed) John MarkeyOcasio-Cortez staff received risk assessment training from police due to death threats: report US climate policy must protect forests and communities, not the forest industry Warren, Klobuchar call on FTC to curtail use of non-compete clauses MORE (D-Mass.) wrote in a tweet. “We knew voluntary commitments wouldn’t work, and now we have the proof. This is why we need net neutrality: wireless carriers can’t be trusted to do the right thing.”