It looks like 2015 will be the remembered as the summer of dueling mobile offerings. Only days after T-Mobile said it would begin allowing users to upgrade their smartphones up to three times a year, Sprint promised to go “All-In” with a new pricing structure that offers unlimited talk, text, and data for $80 a month.
The company, which is the third-largest wireless carrier in the country behind Verizon and AT&T, said that the new offering will make it easier for customers to understand exactly what they are getting for their money, and how much they will be charged.
Not Quite Unlimited
But it seems there are a few catches. First, the $80 a month price tag is a little deceiving. The price does not include a $36 activation charge that users will have to pay. It also excludes taxes and “Sprint surcharges.” The offer is only good until August 6, and it only applies to customers purchasing the 16 GB iPhone 6, the 32 GB Galaxy S6, or the 32 GB HTC One M9.
And the “unlimited high-speed” data that Sprint is hyping is a bit of an overstatement, particularly with regard to anyone who wants to watch YouTube. Streaming video speeds will be limited to Sprint’s 3G network and to speeds of below 600 Kbps. The company also said that “throughput may be limited, varied or reduced on the network” to “improve data experience for the majority of users.”
Sprint said it would reserve the right to terminate a user’s service if the individual’s off-network roaming usage exceeds either 800 minutes or 100 MB in any month.
Betting on Beckham
Nonetheless, Sprint claimed that even with the caveats, the new pricing plan is simpler than those of its competitors since the $80 price tag includes the cost of the phone as well as the base price of the service plan. The All-In offer includes a $20 monthly charge to lease the handset, and $60 for the service plan. After 24 months, customers can continue paying the $20 leasing fee for their handsets, return their handsets, or buy them outright.
The company seemed to be betting heavily that the new offer will help attract new customers, or lure back users who have tried Sprint in the past but left for other providers. A new television spot promoting the new plan featuring soccer superstar David Beckham will debut Tuesday evening during the U.S. Women’s World Cup soccer match.
Sprint’s offer follows on the heels of T-Mobile’s announcement last week that it would begin offering several of its high-end smartphones for no money down in return for 18 monthly payments as well as the standard cost of a service plan. The program called Jump on Demand lets users trade their phones in for new models up to three times in a 12-month period. With both companies moving aggressively to court new customers, observers will be watching to see how Verizon and AT&T respond to these new offers over the next several months.
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