& cplSiteName &

Sprint, T-Mobile: The Price War's On

Sarah Thomas
7/30/2014
50%
50%

Up to this point, the pricing changes the US wireless operators have been making have seemed more like rhetoric than actual savings, but now both Sprint and T-Mobile are signaling that the price war is about to get real.

First T-Mobile US Inc. lowered its family plan pricing to $100 for 4 lines and 10GB of data, a full $60 less than the competition. The deal does have its caveats -- each line is limited to 2.5GB and it's only available until the end of September -- but it's a pretty compelling offer if you can act quickly.

What T-Mobile's new offer really highlighted is how weak Sprint Corp. (NYSE: S)'s looked in comparison. Sprint's comparable Framily plan costs $160, includes only 4GB of data, doesn't allow for tethering, and charges overages. The inherent weakness of this is something Sprint CEO Dan Hesse acknowledged on the company's second quarter earnings call Tuesday morning. (See Sprint Seeds Market with LTE-A Handsets and Sprint Earns $23M in Q2.)

Hesse noted that while the plans were competitive when they launched earlier this year, the market dynamics have changed. As such, Sprint plans to experiment with lower pricing plans. The Sprint boss said these experiments will be for both unlimited and tiered plans, but stressed that customers still really want unlimited, so he'd be "very surprised" if new plans don't have an unlimited element.

"It was competitive then, but it's become less competitive at certain line levels," Hesse admitted of Sprint's Framily plans. "It's too early to have results, but we'll learn from those trials. We haven't made decisions yet, but may need to make adjustments to pricing levels based on what we learned."

On the prepaid front, Sprint's Virgin Mobile USA Inc. (NYSE: VM) brand launched a new Wal-Mart exclusive plan, Virgin Mobile Custom, that lets customers build plans around their usage -- lines start at $6.98 a month, plus $5 unlimited access to Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, or Instagram, or all four for an extra $10 per month. The plans are changeable on the fly from customers' mobile phones and also include granular parental controls.

The new plan, like AT&T Inc. (NYSE: T)'s toll-free data plans, is already getting some flack for encouraging use of certain apps over others, but it's something Sprint more or less admitted it's exploring as well.

It's clear that operators are moving from treading lightly into pricing customization into full-fledged data plan shakeups and experiments. This should ultimately be a good thing for the carriers and potentially even their customers, especially if the price war that Sprint and T-Mobile are trying to spark does take hold.

Of course, this could all be a moot point if Sprint and T-Mobile merge, as they are hoping, but it's good to see they're keeping each other -- and their larger competitors -- on their toes in the meantime. (See Sprint, T-Mobile Settle on $32B Price and Sprint & T-Mobile: A Tale of Two Maps.)

— Sarah Reedy, Senior Editor, Light Reading

(17)  | 
Comment  | 
Print  | 
Newest First  |  Oldest First  |  Threaded View        ADD A COMMENT
Page 1 / 2   >   >>
briandnewby
50%
50%
briandnewby,
User Rank: Light Sabre
8/1/2014 | 11:23:21 AM
Re: Big difference
We are an election office, so our needs are seasonal.  The $3,000 per month is an average, with much of it spent in two separate one-week periods.  So, we wouldn't really be swinging, but you're right--we have a sweet deal on the handsets ($0).

The bigger issue with other carriers would be the ability to leave them--not just termination fees, but investing the time to get to a live person to cancel (it's a bad horror movie if you have AT&T service and try to cancel on the web).
pcharles09
50%
50%
pcharles09,
User Rank: Light Beer
7/31/2014 | 11:52:16 PM
Re: Big difference
@MarkC73,

"I was on a single bar as far as reception and pulled about 10mbps down/6 up during peak hours"

WOW, with Sprint, I'm lucky if I can barely place a call when I have less than 2 bars. That's impressive. I haven't even tried using data when the bars (or dots in my case) are that low.
pcharles09
50%
50%
pcharles09,
User Rank: Light Beer
7/31/2014 | 11:50:37 PM
Re: Big difference
@briandnewby,

Do you have a backup provider in mind just in case your connect jumps ship? If yes, would you mind sharing. My guess is that the 3k/mo would turn into a lot more...
MarkC73
50%
50%
MarkC73,
User Rank: Light Sabre
7/31/2014 | 10:52:09 PM
Re: Big difference
Yes it's pretty awesome bang for the buck, I'm sure complaints and coverage are regionally dependent, but my most frequent hangouts are all pretty well covered where I'll get at least HSPA+, but I do sync up to the LTE network as well.  I was on a single bar as far as reception and pulled about 10mbps down/6 up during peak hours.  Maybe I'll try and do some spot testing during different times in different areas.  While that's far from stellar, I'm not sure of all the factors and have no reference.
briandnewby
50%
50%
briandnewby,
User Rank: Light Sabre
7/31/2014 | 9:29:39 PM
Re: Big difference
I run a government office, about the size of a medium-sized small business, 16 full-time employees, 50 part-time, and about 2,000 seasonal.  Cellular (is it really called that--it's really a subset of "mobile" or "wireless "and it seems so pretention to say 3G/LTE) is a large expense for us.

We use hotspots, smartphones, and tablets, and our telecom costs this year will be about $3,000 a month.

We use Sprint and have an excellent account manager.  I used to work for Sprint, 10 years ago at this point, so that might have helped us get more attention or better service initially, but if he changed jobs, I don't think we'd get the time of day from any of the carriers.  We would be telesales at best.

There's something between "Framily" and enterprise, and it seems like a sweet spot not being addressed.
pcharles09
50%
50%
pcharles09,
User Rank: Light Beer
7/31/2014 | 7:27:45 PM
Re: Big difference
@briandnewby,

I'd agree with that sentiment. I know alot of business users that still continue with Sprint only for the grandfathered plans. I bet if they had a choice now, they'd take thir business elsewhere. It's going to be interesting to see where they go next if those users jump ship.
pcharles09
50%
50%
pcharles09,
User Rank: Light Beer
7/31/2014 | 7:26:08 PM
Re: Big difference
@MarkC73,

$30 a month. That's a steal. Especially that most of the providers try to force you into the everything plans that usually start areound $80-90/mo before taxes & fees.

I used to have tons of complaints about Sprint but over the years, that's lessened.
briandnewby
50%
50%
briandnewby,
User Rank: Light Sabre
7/31/2014 | 11:02:55 AM
Re: Big difference
I think the Sprint business panache is more legacy than real.  Sprint bought Nextel, not knowing why, really--thinkiing it was for "push to talk" but really Nextel was an animal in the small business and government segments.  Much of that tenacity is gone.  Meanwhile, Sprint never had an advantage in the Enterprise space and lost competencies on the wireline side.  Sprint is about as much of a consumer play as T-Mobile going forward, I think.
MarkC73
50%
50%
MarkC73,
User Rank: Light Sabre
7/31/2014 | 10:47:19 AM
Re: Big difference
In my local area, most people I talk to about Sprint have nothing but complaints, including business customers and MVNO customers.  While T-Mobile is viewed as the value play.  I'm a T-Mobile customer myself, and though I'm not contributing to their bottom line much, I'm very happy getting my 5G for $30 month, granted I only have a 100 minutes but who actually uses their phone to talk? ;)  ATT and Verizon definitely have better networks but you pay for it.  I guess I could get a group together and make a family plan...
pcharles09
50%
50%
pcharles09,
User Rank: Light Beer
7/31/2014 | 9:36:47 AM
Re: Big difference
I think Sprint has more clout with business users and T-Mobile with consumers so combining may provide the same service but under the same 'brand' umbrella.
Page 1 / 2   >   >>
More Blogs from Que Sera Sarah
WiC congratulates the winners of our inaugural Leading Lights awards: Cisco's Yvette Kanouff, Zayo Group's Sandi Mays and startup Grid4C.
Leaders from Mellanox, Arista Networks, Syniverse, ECI Telecom and Cisco round out WiC's inaugural female tech pioneers of the year.
Women from AT&T, Ciena, Ixia, Zayo Group and Fujitsu make our shortlist for working to advance the cause of women in the next-gen comms industry.
Join WiC and Flex's Caroline Dowling for a live radio show on Tuesday at 12PM ET on how technology is powering the fourth revolution and to what effect in the future.
New companies with a focus on video graphics, smart grid predictive analytics and a quadcopter camera make up WiC's finalists for Female-Led Startup to Watch.
From The Founder
The more things change, the more they stay the same for Juniper's next-gen comms solutions, and that's a good thing.
Flash Poll
Live Streaming Video
Charting the CSP's Future
Six different communications service providers join to debate their visions of the future CSP, following a landmark presentation from AT&T on its massive virtualization efforts and a look back on where the telecom industry has been and where it's going from two industry veterans.
LRTV Interviews
Rogers: Millennials Prefer Mobile Video

7|1|16   |     |   (0) comments


Rogers' Upinder Saini explains how millennial viewers favor mobile devices over big TVs and non-conventional TV content over broadcast and cable networks.
LRTV Custom TV
ZTE Pre5G & 5G Solutions

6|30|16   |   02:23   |   (0) comments


At 5G World London, ZTE demonstrated two types of equipment, including 128 antenna Pre5G Massive MIMO and 15GHz high-frequency base stations.
LRTV Custom TV
Energy 2020: Technology Innovation to Fuel Power Efficiency

6|30|16   |   07:21   |   (0) comments


Managing energy costs and consumption as cable operators deploy new services requires new levels of innovation from technology partners. In this video, Dave Fellows, co-founder and CTO of Layer3 TV and chief scientist of the SCTE/ISBE Energy 2020 program, discusses such ambitious objectives as achieving a second 500% increase in efficiency in outside plant ...
LRTV Custom TV
Transitioning to Service Agile Networks

6|30|16   |     |   (0) comments


Packet optical networks are transitioning from proprietary converged systems to open disaggregated platforms. This video will describe the Fujitsu 1FINITY disaggregated platform, explore how 1FINITY interoperates with the Fujitsu FLASHWAVE platform and explain how 1FINITY is designed for software control, like with Fujitsu Virtuora NC.
Women in Comms Introduction Videos
Nokia's Advancement Plan: Bring Old Skills to New Roles

6|29|16   |   7:57   |   (1) comment


Nokia's Sandy Motley advises women to change their mindsets; get aggressive about advancing their careers; develop strong, diverse support networks; and always bring forth learned skills to take on new challenges and different roles.
Between the CEOs
CEO Chat: Cisco's Yvette Kanouff

6|28|16   |     |   (0) comments


In Silicon Valley, Steve Saunders sits down with Cisco's Yvette Kanouff for an exclusive in-depth interview.
LRTV Interviews
Comcast: Prepping Next-Gen Video Services

6|28|16   |     |   (0) comments


In this LRTV interview, Comcast's Elad Nafshi outlines where MSO stands with cloud DVR, OTT video, college and gigabit services.
LRTV Custom TV
Energy 2020: Creating Unique Standards for Cable's Unique Networks

6|28|16   |   09:30   |   (0) comments


Cable's unique network requirements require a specific set of standards for operators to increase power efficiency, according to Dan Cooper, vice president of critical infrastructure for Charter Communications and chair of the SCTE/ISBE Standards Program's Energy Management Subcommittee, and Ian Oliver, managing director of the Trenchant Group and a member of the ...
LRTV Custom TV
Masergy: 'Now Is the Time for NFV'

6|28|16   |     |   (0) comments


Hear Ray Watson, VP of Global Technology at Masergy, talk about the advantages that enterprises can leverage using Network Function Virtualization (NFV), and how Masergy takes a unique approach to solving customers' problems. For more information on Masergy, please visit www.masergy.com.
LRTV Custom TV
Masergy Leads the Charge With NFV Capabilities

6|28|16   |     |   (0) comments


Hear Tim Naramore, CTO at Masergy, talk about how focusing on solving specific customer challenges, providing self-service automation tools and being laser focused on the customer experience has enabled Masergy to be a leader in the NFV space. For more information on Masergy, please visit www.masergy.com.
LRTV Custom TV
Private Company of the Year - Affirmed Networks

6|27|16   |     |   (0) comments


At BCE 2016, Steve Saunders speaks to Hassan Ahmed about Affirmed's success.
LRTV Custom TV
Energy 2020: Growing Services, Not Consumption

6|24|16   |   07:18   |   (0) comments


Management of power requirements needs to be a key consideration as cable operators deploy new services, says Dan Cooper, vice president of critical infrastructure for Charter Communications and chair of the SCTE/ISBE Standards Program's Energy Management Subcommittee. In this video, Cooper discusses the importance of cable operators and technology partners ...
Upcoming Live Events
September 13-14, 2016, The Curtis Hotel, Denver, CO
November 3, 2016, The Montcalm Marble Arch, London
November 30, 2016, The Westin Times Square, New York City
December 6-8, 2016,
May 16-17, 2017, Austin Convention Center, Austin, TX
All Upcoming Live Events
Infographics
A new survey conducted by Heavy Reading and TM Forum shows that CSPs around the world see the move to digital operations as a necessary part of their overall virtualization strategies.
Hot Topics
Brexit: It's Hard to See an Upside
Ray Le Maistre, Editor-in-chief, 6/29/2016
Qualcomm Readies Lower-Band 5G Testbed
Dan Jones, Mobile Editor, 6/27/2016
Sigfox Said to Face Customer Backlash
Iain Morris, News Editor, 6/27/2016
DT Eyes FTTH Solution to German Opex Issue
Iain Morris, News Editor, 6/29/2016
Brexit Batters Telefónica's O2 Sale Plans
Iain Morris, News Editor, 6/30/2016
Like Us on Facebook
Twitter Feed
BETWEEN THE CEOs - Executive Interviews
In Silicon Valley, Steve Saunders sits down with Cisco's Yvette Kanouff for an exclusive in-depth interview.
At the BCE 2016 show in Austin, ECI Telecom CEO Darryl Edwards tells Light Reading founder and CEO about the Elastic Network concept and the company's NFV and cybersecurity developments.
Animals with Phones
Live Digital Audio

Our world has evolved through innovation from the Industrial Revolution of the 1740s to the information age, and it is now entering the Fourth Industrial Revolution, driven by technology. Technology is driving a paradigm shift in the way digital solutions deliver a connected world, changing the way we live, communicate and provide solutions. It can have a powerful impact on how we tackle some of the world’s most pressing problems. In this radio show, Caroline Dowling, President of Communications Infrastructure & Enterprise Computing at Flex, will join Women in Comms Director Sarah Thomas to discuss the impact technology has on society and how it can be a game-changer across the globe; improving lives and creating a smarter world. Dowling, a Cork, Ireland, native and graduate of Harvard Business School's Advanced Management Program, will also discuss her experience managing an international team focused on innovation in an age of high-speed change.