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[July 12, 2013]
Sprint launches 'guarantee' for unlimited plans
Jul 12, 2013 (The Kansas City Star - McClatchy-Tribune Information Services via COMTEX) -- Sprint Corp. made a new offer to consumers Thursday that would "guarantee" a lifetime of access to unlimited data on their smartphones.
Its two new offerings, called "Unlimited, My Way" and "My All-in," ensure that the phone numbers covered would always be able to buy access to unlimited data on the Sprint network.
Sprint markets its unlimited data as a distinction from larger rivals Verizon and AT&T, both of which have offered shared data plans that charge more for additional amounts of data access. Neither offers unlimited data to new customers.
Sprint's new plans come the same week it completed its purchase of Clearwire Corp. Sprint also this week was acquired by Tokyo-based SoftBank Corp. in a $21.6 billion deal for 78 percent of the company.
Clearwire controls large amounts of wireless spectrum needed to carry the data that allow smartphones to stream videos, download apps, upload photos and perform other popular functions. Without Clearwire's spectrum, Sprint wouldn't have the capacity to maintain a lifelong unlimited offer.
"We're now saying we're guaranteeing it for life," Sprint spokeswoman Laura Lisec said.
The plans also reduce the costs of multiple phones on the same account, charging $50 for the first, $40 for the second, $30 for the third and $20 for each of the next seven.
Customers would still need to buy separate data plans for each device. Sprint offers the unlimited data for a smartphone for $30 a month and unlimited data for a basic phone for $10 a month.
Each line also is able to buy a limited amount of data for a lower cost, or no data access to avoid any additional charge.
Lisic said the $50 cost for the first phone plus the $30 data plan is cheaper than a comparable $109.99 cost of a Sprint Simply Everything plan. Both allow unlimited data and unlimited calling even to non-mobile phones, and unlimited texting.
Sprint announced its new plans on the heels of T-Mobile's announcement of its Jump plan. It involves no service contracts, providing coverage month to month and financing the phone's purchase separately. Jump also allows an upgrade to a new phone in just six months, and again in another six months.
T-Mobile's offer is an appeal to get consumers to drop their two-year contract habits that dominate the other carriers.
Industry consultant Berge Ayvazian, with HeavyReading.com, said Verizon, AT&T and Sprint aren't going to drop their contract offers but will compete.
"Other carriers are reluctant to go down that path," Ayvazian said. "So Sprint is enhancing the value of having a contract" by making the unlimited lifetime offer.
He also said that guaranteeing the new plan's customers a lifetime of access to unlimited data is the same as telling other customers they could lose unlimited data access in the future.
"That's correct," Lisec said, adding that Sprint has no current plans to curb its other unlimited data plans.
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