Sprint, Once Again, Reiterates Commitment to Unlimited Data (But for How Long?)


Much has been made about the future of unlimited data. As Verizon and AT&T have nixed the thought and as T-Mobile has chosen to throttle customers instead of completely shutting it down, Sprint’s been steadfast in letting people know that their unlimited data is going nowhere. Their advertising campaigns did enough to reassure customers that.

Sprint again confirmed at the GigaOM Mobilize conference that they weren’t going to be pressured by the rest of he wireless industry to change their approach. One must ask themselves, though – how long can they keep it up? Are costs of building and maintaining infrastructures really low enough that it’s not a problem for Sprint to keep doing this or will they eventually need to help cover costs by charging users more for the data they chow down on?

Sprint faces directly-related problems, however. As they try and keep up with the rest of the industry in the 4G race, they have been quickly left in the dust. Their failed WiMax rollout (is it safe to call it a failure at this point?) has prompted the Now Network to stick to their mantra and find a solution to expand their 4G coverage in the very near future.

All rumors are pointing to LTE and it won’t be cheap for the company to get started on that. In fact, even if they were to continue forward with WiMax and help Clearwire build their network, they’d still need a great deal of funds.

As they’ve learned from Clearwire’s blunders, building out a 4G network takes an extremely large amount of capital, and while we’re sure Sprint has a lot of that to work with, we can’t say they aren’t currently looking for ways to help ease the hit on their wallets. Most major wireless companies have decided that the very users they’re serving will have to pay for the data they want.

That alone could be the pressure that could eventually drive them to nix unlimited data. Another source of pressure would simply come from investors and stock holders who feel Sprint’s returns aren’t where they could be.

Recent moves by Sprint have had customers worried in general. They’ve done away with their premier program, they’ve shortened their device return/exchange window from 30 days to 14 days and they’ve gotten rid of unlimited data while using your phone as a mobile hotspot.

What gets a lot of people worried as that Sprint also looked at their 30 day return window and their premier program as key features that would keep and attract customers. It would appear that unlimited data and moderately competitive prices are the last big things Sprint’s got going for them up against competitors, but recent actions should tell you that all of that could change at the drop of a dime.

For now, though, your unlimited data for your non mobile hotspot needs is safe. Sprint’s banking on that to attract customers, but in their efforts to provide a sustainable 4G network up against their fast-moving competitor Verizon and up-and-coming T-Mobile and AT&T, you have to look into the future with a bit of uncertainty. [CNET]

Quentyn Kennemer
The "Google Phone" sounded too awesome to pass up, so I bought a G1. The rest is history. And yes, I know my name isn't Wilson.

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  1. I’m sure it’ll sick around for awhile .sprint couldn’t afford to do away with it. Unlimited data will last at least as long as the tmobile/at&t merger is in the works. If it goes through I can se sprint keeping the unlimited data to attract distraught tmobile customers. If it gets denied then maybe spring will look into axing it.

    1. I hope they keep their unlimited till March next year. I can’t stand Tmobile’s sllowing down my speed once I pass 5 gigs. I don’t bit torrent but I’m always on the internet, watching youtube and other streams or listening to music. Once my contract is up, I’m going to Sprint.

      1. i was with tmobile as well. I had the unlimited data plan and when they switched to the tiered data plans, they told me i was going to be grandfathered in. however, one day my internet started running extremely slow. i found that i was being throttled, because i used more than 5gb. I was supposed to be grandfathered in with the unlimited data, yet all they did was put me on the 5gb data plan. tmobile has started lying and screwing their customers over the past few months. they pushed me right out the door. and i didn’t even have to pay early termination fees, and i upgraded to the g2x. that’s a big f-u for tmobile. i’m with sprint now and am happy with my epic 4g touch. the coverage here is better, faster 4g speeds and true unlimited data.

  2. Until they get a 4g network that actually works?

    1. It works, just not nearly in as many areas as it should.

      1. If by areas you mean indoors then I agree.

        1. Indoors is most definitely included in that. I was more referring to the lack of expansion, and lack of availability in a lot of the major areas across the US.

  3. Costs don’t matter when you don’t bother upgrading your network and arbitrarily close complaint tickets instead of actually fixing network problems. Not like they’re worried about people sucking down loads of data when the maximum speeds they offer are barely 200kbps.

  4. if data really costs the providers that much then they would’ve started a tiered plan for cable internet a long time ago. with online gaming such as xbox live, streaming movies from netflix and music onto my zune along with other things, i use way more data on my cable internet than cell phone providers can imagine. the cost of installing the towers i’m sure cost a pretty penny, however once it is installed and running, i really don’t it costing much more after that. they are just getting cheap.

  5. Obviously, there are certain factors that sway people to one carrier or another i.e. discount through job, ability to get a signal, etc. But is there really that many people swayed by these factors that companies that at least seem to try to do more for their customers for less $$$ (Sprint and TMo) are 3rd and 4th behind companies like Verizon and AT&T who fleece their customers at every chance for more $$$? I understand every business is out to make money, but it seems to me the truly successful companies would be the ones that best balance that against the happiness of their customers. My logic seems to not apply to mobile carriers though, by the way their subscriber numbers stack up… I guess I just don’t get it.

  6. They’ve really messed it up. I’m due for a phone upgrade, but right now I don’t have much reason to. If I get another smartphone, my bill goes up $10 a month and they still haven’t deployed WiMax to Nassau County on Long Island. I rarely go into Queens or Manhattan.

    Now, do I wait for LTE and hope their rollout is better than Clear’s was. I doubt Sprint can match Verizon’s rollout rate.

  7. i also left tmobile for sprint and honestly even when i was capped it was faster than what im getting from sprint and im in new york coverage is supposed to be good….and i hardly get any 4g so what the hell….they told me it was because of the hurricane and they are fixing towers so lets hope that was it….but if sprint starts capping data then i will go to back to tmobile because i had service everywhere and the speeds were blazing fast

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