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Sprint's plan for tablets, laptop cards, and mobile hotspots is now better priced than Verizon

Sprint Nextel, Corp. (S) shocked some customers when it killed unlimited data privileges to its mobile hotspots, tablets, and laptop cards.  The changes -- set to go into effect this month marked a sharp departure from Sprint's "unlimit yourself" marketing rhetoric. In addition, Sprint’s coverage and data speeds aren't exactly keeping up with Verizon Wireless (Verizon Wireless is a joint venture of Verizon Communications Inc. (VZ) and Vodafone Group Plc. (LON:VOD)) or with AT&T, Inc. (T).

Just two weeks into its era of capped connections, Sprint has cut its prices in a bid to stay competitive with its larger rivals.

Under the new deal, connections are still capped, but you'll get slightly more data than you would on Verizon, et al.  Before, Sprint was charging $60 USD/month for 5 GB.  Now it's offering 6 GB for $50 USD/month.  $50 USD/month on Verizon and AT&T only buys you 5 GB.  

For hungrier data users Sprint has priced 12 GB of data at $80 USD/month compared to $90 USD/month for 10 GB.  By contrast, Verizon offers 10GB for its $80 USD/month plan.  You'd have to swallow $20 in overage fees and pay $100 USD/month on Verizon to get 12 GB/month.  Likewise, AT&T's biggest data plan is 5 GB/month.  You would have to pay $120 USD/month -- including $70 in data overage fees -- to get 12 GB/month.

But what about Deutsche Telekom AG's (ETR:DTE) T-Mobile USA?  T-Mobile is kind of the oddball of the group.  It charges a $15 USD/month tethering fee.  Your data plan then uses your mobile data plan.  The approach sort of makes sense, given that you're typically streaming to your computer or using your phone -- not both.

T-Mobile offers a 5 GB plan for $30 USD/month and a 10 GB plan for $60 USD/month.  Interestingly there are no overages, but past the cap it throttles your connection, so you might not be able to reach 12 GB/month easily.

The net result is that T-Mobile has the cheapest rates, but less flexibility

Sprint offers 4G data via WiMAX connections on its networks operated by Clearwire Corp. (CLWR), a partner in owns a majority stake in.

In the grand scheme of things, here's the picture for holiday buyers:
  1. T-Mobile narrowly has the cheapest rates for tethered data plans ($45 for 5 GB; $75 for 10 GB), but past the cap you can't pay your way to more coverage via overage fees.  Plus an , so expect some pricing changes may be coming down the pipe.
     
  2. Sprint beats AT&T and Verizon in prices (but not Verizon's holiday double data promotion).  However it's coverage and data speeds trail behind both AT&T and Verizon in most areas.
     
  3. Verizon has the most LTE (4G) coverage and it is currently offering a holiday promotion that doubles your monthly data allowance. The "double allotment" is effective as long as you own a Verizon 4G smartphone.
     
  4. AT&T has the fastest 3G data network and the fastest LTE 4G data network. However, AT&T's LTE 4G network is currently only available in a handful of markets and will only cover 70 million Americans by year's end versus the 160 million Verizon covers now.

Source: Reuters



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RE: Price ain't everything...
By Solandri on 11/15/2011 3:19:38 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
T-mobile and Sprint might be a little cheaper but you pay dearly due to the lack of good service in many places or you end up roaming off AT&T or Verizon. If you always drop calls or can't get online, what good is a little cheaper plan.

Most of Sprint's plans include free roaming, and Verizon is one of Sprint's roaming partners. The only downside to roaming on Verizon's network is that your data is limited to 1xRTT speeds, which is about 1/4th typical 3G speeds.

Oh, that and they've removed the "force roam" option from most of their phones. Your only choices are Sprint-only and Auto (where if it detects a weak Sprint signal, it will try to use that rather than roam). If it's an android phone, you can buy a $3.99 app which will let you force roam on rooted phones. I suppose that was inevitable with free roaming though.


RE: Price ain't everything...
By Adam M on 11/17/2011 6:39:45 PM , Rating: 2
I went with Sprint for unlimited phone data which they seem to stand behind, for the moment. I was considering adding the hotspot feature for the flat $30 per month, unlimited. Now that they have changed the model anything they announce will be a lesser value. Especially considering their current 4g network isn’t as fast and the devices supported by it will become obsolete that much faster, like my Evo. I understand that new phones come out all the time, raising the bar with each release. I expected the phone to become out dated quickly, not the 4g network they will no longer work to improve. As they move away from unlimited data, other companies with better speeds and better connections become more important then price.


RE: Price ain't everything...
By euclidean on 11/18/2011 3:48:39 PM , Rating: 2
I'm in the same situation as yourself. Sprint w/EVO. They're starting to move towards LTE next year for 4G service, and claim that they will continue to support the WiMax through or into 2013. But nothing about extending coverage...so our cool "1st 4G phone" will be a brick for 4G coverage...

As long as they continue to offer a low cost plan with unlimited data (the amount of features/data for the cost on a smartphone is unbeatable by AT&T, Verizon, or T-Mobile atm) on smartphones, I'll try and hold off for an LTE device next year...but they are gambling on so many things ATM, that I'm trying to figure whether I want Verizon or AT&T next...the issue is which one will "rape" my wallet less and give me the same or better service...


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