x
Optical/IP

Sprint Raises 3G Prices to 4G Levels

Sprint Corp. (NYSE: S)'s 3G smart phones will soon get the same treatment as its 4G phones. The third-largest carrier in the U.S. is tacking on a $10 "Premium Data add-on" to its $69 unlimited data plans for activations of any smart phone beginning January 30.

Sprint announced the change in a press release angling to buy consumers' sympathy about the wireless data explosion to justify the rate hike. It said that the premium charge will assist it in "offering simple and affordable unlimited plans for its customers while maintaining a wireless network able to meet the growing appetite for a richer mobile experience."

Existing Sprint smart phone users won't be affected, unless they upgrade to or activate another smart phone. The charge doesn't apply to plans on data cards either.

Why this matters
Sprint's WiMax customers on the High Tech Computer Corp. (HTC) (Taiwan: 2498) Evo and Samsung Corp. Epic already pay an extra $10 for 4G speeds, a pricing decision that irked a lot of Sprint's early adopters. So, while applying the fee to 3G may be understandable given the depths to which some users are pushing unlimited usage allowances, the fact that it's occurring on a slower network is likely to elicit more grumbles.

Its unlimited plans have been popular too, helping Sprint add 354,000 new subscribers with two-year contracts in the third quarter. (See Sprint Gives 'Leapfrog' Details.)

Bob Johnson, Sprint's president of consumer business, points out in the release that some of its competitors (namely AT&T Inc. (NYSE: T)) impose overage charges and "complex plans," which Sprint is trying to avoid at all costs. With the $10 increase, Sprint's Simply Everything plans still come in below comparable plans at AT&T and Verizon Wireless , but are higher than T-Mobile US Inc. . (See AT&T Intros Mobile Data Caps.)

All four of the nation's leading carriers, along with their smaller competitors MetroPCS Inc. (NYSE: PCS) and Leap Wireless International Inc. (Nasdaq: LEAP), are grappling with how to address skyrocketing data usage, and T-Mobile and Verizon will ultimately have to decide whether to follow Sprint into increased, albeit unlimited prices, or track AT&T into tiered plans and usage caps.

For more
Sprint has been driving home its unlimited message even as its competitors move to tiered pricing. For more on the carrier price wars, check out the following stories:



— Sarah Reedy, Senior Reporter, Light Reading Mobile

sarahthomas1011 12/5/2012 | 5:15:15 PM
re: Sprint Raises 3G Prices to 4G Levels

Ah ha, that's an interesting point. Speaks to the need for sites to have a mobile app or at least mobile-optimized Web site with mobile-optimized ads.

paolo.franzoi 12/5/2012 | 5:15:15 PM
re: Sprint Raises 3G Prices to 4G Levels

 


Also depends on the plans and their granularity.  Finally, website owners need to think about this as well (hint Lightreading take a think about this).  Basically, people are going to get miffed if lots of even Flash get auto-downloaded on a website hit.  Worse yet with linked ads.


Something to think about...


seven


 

sarahthomas1011 12/5/2012 | 5:15:15 PM
re: Sprint Raises 3G Prices to 4G Levels

Pay more for an unlimited plan or subscribe to one of several tiered options? The answer probably depends on how much data you use.

sarahthomas1011 12/5/2012 | 5:15:14 PM
re: Sprint Raises 3G Prices to 4G Levels

You don't get anything else for the additional $10, outside of assurance Sprint won't go to tiered pricing and data caps as a result of the increase. And the plan isn't changed - still includes unlimited voice and text too.

sarahthomas1011 12/5/2012 | 5:15:14 PM
re: Sprint Raises 3G Prices to 4G Levels

That'd be $10 more, making it $80. The lead has been updated to reflect that it's sad news, not happy news for Sprint 3G subs. Thanks.

Gabriel Brown 12/5/2012 | 5:15:14 PM
re: Sprint Raises 3G Prices to 4G Levels

ah, I see. Do you get anything else for your $80? Does that include voice minutes and device subsidy? Or is it a straight $80 for the data add-on?


What would it cost to add, say, 1GB of data to your voice/text plan?


e.g. on Vodafone UK I pay £25 month and get minutes, texts, and 1GB of data on a 30 day contract, but have to supply my own device.


 

Gabriel Brown 12/5/2012 | 5:15:14 PM
re: Sprint Raises 3G Prices to 4G Levels

From the article, you pay $10 for unlimited data? Sounds like a deal, no?


Or $10 more than you were paying?

miar70 12/5/2012 | 5:15:10 PM
re: Sprint Raises 3G Prices to 4G Levels

You do get 'extras' with the everything plan if you're looking to compare with your plan in Europe, which are at a high level...


"Sprint includes Blackberry Internet Service, Sprint Music Premier (50 commercial-free streaming music channels, 100 local stations), Sprint TV® Premier (25+ channels of live TV, on-demand clips and full-length episodes), NFL Mobile Live and NASCAR Sprint Cup Mobile"


Some of these services, if you use them might help you decide to go to the unlimited top tier, but it still looks like a competitive offer when compared with plans around the world...

Gabriel Brown 12/5/2012 | 5:15:08 PM
re: Sprint Raises 3G Prices to 4G Levels

Thanks miar70. There are not many unlimited plans globally, so in that sense it's competitive. But then using much above 1GB/month over 3G on a mobile is at the high end of things. I use about 200MB to 300MB of 3G data a month, supplemented by lots of unmetered WiFi.


An obvious point is that the price of a data 'add-on' is not especially meaningful in isolation. One really needs to look at the all-in price of a plan, the contract length, subsidies, overage, international charges, and so on. For example, in the UK data looks inexpensive, but voice not so much. 


Separating out the data component of operator revenues/value is already quite difficult and will become more so.

HOME
Sign In
SEARCH
CLOSE
MORE
CLOSE