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