Sprint Cuts Data Plan Prices to Stay Competitive with T-Mobile, Verizon
November 15, 2011 9:27 AM
Sprint's plan for tablets, laptop cards, and mobile hotspots is now better priced than Verizon
Sprint Nextel, Corp. (
) 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. (
) and Vodafone Group Plc. (
)) or with AT&T, Inc. (
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 (
) 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
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:
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.
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.
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
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
only cover 70 million Americans
by year's end versus the 160 million Verizon covers now.
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