Light Reading

Sprint Launches No-Sharing 'Framily' Plans

Sarah Thomas

Its bigger rivals have introduced family data-sharing plans, but Sprint is taking a unique approach -- offering "Framily" plans where members don't have to share data or, for that matter, anything else.

Sprint Corp. (NYSE: S) CEO Dan Hesse talked up the new plans at the Citi conference in Las Vegas on Tuesday. He cited US Census statistics that show 60% of American households now have one or two people. The new plans cater to these non-nuclear families by letting a Sprint customer share an account ID with up to 10 friends, family members, co-workers, neighborhood mooches, or whomever.

That person pays $55 for unlimited talk, text, and 1 GB of data. Each person added to the plan reduces the cost by $5 to as low as $30 per month. Any user can pay $10 extra for 3 GB of data or $20 more for unlimited, uncapped data. Each participant also gets an individual bill and doesn't have to share data with the other plan members.

Hesse said he thinks the plans will reduce churn for Sprint by committing so many people to a plan, even if they end up reducing average revenue per user. The postpaid plans also require Sprint customers to pay up front for their mobile device or in 24 monthly payments, so they could reduce subsidy fees.

He also reiterated his sort-of commitment to unlimited service. He said he expects it to be around for a long time -- at least as an option -- at the carrier. He didn't promise it wouldn't come at a cost, but he still sees a significant portion of Sprint's customer base wanting to pay a premium for that peace of mind. A home run for Sprint would be if everyone on the Framily plans paid the $20 extra for unlimited data.

"Our overall economics are better served by people who use more and are willing to pay more for unlimited usage," Hesse said.

Also Tuesday, Sprint announced Fort Lauderdale, Fla., and five Texas cities -- Austin, Dallas, Fort Worth, Houston, and San Antonio -- as tri-mode Spark markets. The curved LG Electronics Inc. (London: LGLD; Korea: 6657.KS) G Flex smartphone, unveiled at CES, will be the latest Spark-compatible smartphone. (See: Sprint Sparks It in Chicago and Sprint Sparks Up Vendors for Faster 4G LTE.)

— Sarah Reedy, Senior Editor, Light Reading

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User Rank: Blogger
1/13/2014 | 10:37:32 AM
Framily plans one up One Up?
Looks like Sprint is abandoning its short-lived One Up early upgrade plans in favor of the Framily plans, which is weird because Hesse talked up how well they were doing at the Citi conference. Plus, I thought they were linked to the Framily plans, ie you have to pay up front or be a One Up subscriber to take advantage of Framily?
User Rank: Light Sabre
1/9/2014 | 7:02:45 AM
Re: Mooches
It is already hard agreeing on a package with another "friend". 7 will be just too much to follow-up on...
User Rank: Blogger
1/8/2014 | 11:47:19 AM
Re: Mooches
He said neighbors, but -- seeing as I'm not close with any of my neighbors -- I figured they'd have to be real moochy to try to get on my plan. No one has ever even tried to borrow sugar.
User Rank: Blogger
1/8/2014 | 11:44:53 AM
Re: Good deal
That's true, and it comes down to the original guy to keep all his other people on the plan. First he has to find 7 people in 14 days (for max discount) then convince them to stay on. It could be a lot of work. I'd just want to be one of the people that latches on late.
User Rank: Blogger
1/7/2014 | 8:50:10 PM
Did Hesse actually suggest neighborhood mooches as possible "framily" plan members? I want to believe he did.
R Clark
R Clark,
User Rank: Blogger
1/7/2014 | 6:57:27 PM
Re: Good deal
Sounds like a good way of adding subs, although the problem with chasing price-sensitive customers is they're easily lured away at the end of the contract.

In HK, I just upgraded to 4G for an extra $10 a month and the operator threw in a free extra 4G SIM card.
User Rank: Blogger
1/7/2014 | 5:39:15 PM
Good deal
I think this is a good model for Sprint. Creates sticky customers because the more they have on the plan, the lower the cost, plus no fighting over the data, which could be ackward if you don't know these people well.

There is a catch -- you have to pay up front for the phone or pay in installments, but the plans are cheap enough to offset that initial pain.

What do you think? Would you be able to get 7 people on board for a plan like this? Sprint says you have two weeks to do so after signing up before your plan is locked in.
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