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Sprint has killed one of the few advantages it network has -- unlimited tethered data.  (Source: Paramount Pictures)
Smartphones will still be "unlimited"

Sadly the rumors of the demise of unlimited tethering data on Sprint Nextel Corp.'s (S) network are true.  The company announced via a support post that it would be making "effective beginning with your next bill following notification", which would in essence kill unlimited 3G and 4G data on tablets, wireless modems, and smartphone hot spots.

"Unlimited" has long been Sprint's big selling point and it's a selling point that the company's ads continue to harp on:  


Now -- as the carrier has long warned could happen -- a big chunk of the company's unlimited plans are about to die.  Sprint announced that it will be capping most of its existing connections at 5 GB of 3G and 4G use.  Past that, you will pay $0.05 USD per MB ($51.20 USD per GB).  When roaming on non-Sprint networks you'll only get a 300 MB allowance and will have to pay $0.25 USD per MB ($256.00 USD per GB).

New users can opt into a lower 3 GB plan or a higher 10 GB plan (and existing customers will likely be able to call and adjust their plan upwards, albeit at a premium).

Tethering add-on costs ($29.99 USD/month) for existing users will not change for the transitional 5 GB/month package.  But for new users hotspots will cost $45 USD for 3GB, $60 USD for 5GB, and $90 USD for 10GB of combined 3G/4G data.

Sprint Tethering
[Source: Sprint]

These rates are pretty horrific in that they are by far the most expensive in the industry, surpassing even Verizon Wireless's rates of $50 USD for 5GB per month or $80 USD for 10GB per month (Verizon Wireless is a joint venture of Verizon Communications Inc. (VZ) and Vodafone Group Plc. (LON:VOD)).

Factor in that ClearWire's WiMAX network, which Sprint relies upon, is available in far less regions and is generally slower than AT&T or Verizon's LTE networks, this is looking like one horrible move for Sprint and its customers.  ClearWire and Sprint have plans to deploy LTE, but for now essentially Sprint is offering customers an inferior LTE network at the nation's highest price.

The only real saving grace for Sprint is that it adds, "Additionally, if your phone plan contains unlimited data, you will continue to enjoy unlimited data usage on your phone while on the Sprint network."

The shocking news comes shortly after Sprint acquired rights to sell the iPhone and just weeks after the company supposedly reaffirmed its commitment to unlimited data.

But if the death of unlimited tethering doesn't give Sprint customers cause to rethink their plans immediately, it most certainly will give make them pause and reconsider their subscriptions.  After all, if unlimited tethering data has been killed, Sprint's days of being the last provider to offer unlimited smartphone data are likely limited as well.

To add to the disturbing picture for Sprint subscribers, we recently exposed that Sprint was turning a blind eye to text message fraud on its network.  It claims to allow premium service messages  -- which it reportedly profits off of -- only via opt-in, but we revealed that many customers are being charged without ever opting in.

With these changes Deutsche Telekom AG's (ETR:DTE) T-Mobile USA now has the most generous tethering plan, in that it's cheaper than Sprint's new tethering plans and while capped, still allows throttled traffic past the cap.  Of course an acquisition by AT&T is looming so the good times may only roll on T-Mobile USA for a bit longer.

Source: Sprint



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RE: Just curious, how many use tethering?
By nolisi on 10/24/2011 5:04:21 PM , Rating: 0
quote:
I don't think they could have anticipated the explosive growth of "smart phones" and the excessive bandwidth usage that went along with it when they designed their cell infrastructure.


Yes, because, Sprint, Verizon, and AT&T are not also ISPs, they didn't observe the rise of the PC and demand for connectivity in households across America, and they didn't have any access to sales data on their own smart phones which they sold.

Stop being apologetic to the corporatocracy. This not like drugs, connectivity and smart phones are pervasive and critical to our modern day economy. No business nor an individual should have to worry about overages dramatically impacting their fiscal livelihood. They could have built more capacity instead of taking the money and passing it to shareholders while the executive staff soaks up bonuses.

quote:
Honestly, how many people tether anyway?

If the answer is few, then they shouldn't need to change plans. I use tethering for my iPad/Laptop when I need connectivity. And when I use tether those devices, I'm not (intentionally) consuming data on my phone simultaneously. There is no good argument for why tethered devices should have a separate plan, especially when you can't use data/voice simultaneously on networks such as Verizon. This is kin to cable companies claiming you need to pay a service charge for every room in your house that you wanted to connect cable TV to, otherwise you were "stealing" cable. Data is data regardless of the endpoint which consumes it.

This is not drug pushing, the more appropriate terms that I'll introduce you to (since you seem to be unaware of them) is market collaboration and price gouging.


By artemicion on 10/24/2011 7:38:43 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
connectivity and smart phones are pervasive and critical to our modern day economy.


Even if true, this does not mean that you are entitled to connectivity on an unlimited basis. Gas is also critical to the economy. Don't expect to get that on an unlimited basis either.

quote:
No business nor an individual should have to worry about overages dramatically impacting their fiscal livelihood.


False. Keep track of your usage and your budget. Don't expect the government to bail you out when you're crippled by your wasteful use of data. Just like you shouldn't expect the government to bail you out if you eat 50 donuts a day and, surprise, need triple-bypass.

quote:
They could have built more capacity instead of taking the money and passing it to shareholders while the executive staff soaks up bonuses.


Guess what, you too "could" build a telecom company with "more capacity" and refuse to take money from customers. Try it. I'm sure you'll love it.

quote:
There is no good argument for why tethered devices should have a separate plan...


Yes there is. It's called "supply and demand" and "capitalism." Learn about it.

quote:
This is not drug pushing, the more appropriate terms that I'll introduce you to (since you seem to be unaware of them) is market collaboration and price gouging.


What you described is simply not market collaboration. As for "price gouging," I'll just simply say that the free market tolerates some forms of price gouging. That's why gas is $5/gallon in the mountains. It's called supply and demand. If you think prices should be cheaper, again, start your own telecom company, charge lower prices, and see how that works out for you.


"Folks that want porn can buy an Android phone." -- Steve Jobs














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