Is Sprint the chicken or the egg? You decide.
On the heels of T-Mobile’s revolutionary announcement that it’s dropping tiered data plans in favor of a single unlimited offering, Sprint rolled out its own new unlimited offering: Unlimited Freedom.
“Wireless customers want simple, worry-free and affordable wireless plans on a reliable network,” Sprint CEO Marcelo Claure said in a statement. “There can be a lot of frustration and confusion around wireless offers, with too much focus on gigabytes and extra charges. Our answer is the simplicity of Unlimited Freedom.”
While Sprint isn’t doing away with its other plan tiers, Unlimited Freedom will offer Sprint customers the chance to get unlimited talk, text and data for $60 per month for the first line. The second line will run customers $40 per month, while lines three through 10 will cost $30 per month.
Sprint’s Unlimited Freedom will offer optimized streaming rates for video (480p resolution), games (up to 2 mbps) and music (up to 500 kbps). Unlimited 4G LTE data will cover “most everything else,” Sprint said. Claure said Sprint initially questioned whether to use optimized streams, but decided to move ahead when customers said the difference between optimized and premium was “practically indistinguishable” in testing.
T-Mobile’s new plan similarly offers optimized video streaming.
Sprint said its Boost Mobile prepaid brand will also offer a new simplified unlimited offer, dubbed “Unlimited Unhook’d.” That plan will come with unlimited talk, text and data – with optimized streams for video, gaming and music – at a cost of $50 per month for one line and $30 per month for lines two through five. Boost will also have a new $30 “Unlimited starter” plan with unlimited talk, text and 2G data with 1 GB of high-speed data, Sprint said.
Both new plans will roll out tomorrow, Sprint said.
Claure and T-Mobile CEO on Thursday traded barbs on Twitter over the matching timing and structure of the announcements, each accusing the other of copying plans.
But it’s not that simple.
Sprint has been testing its unlimited idea since at least last month. On the carrier’s second quarter earnings call, Claure downplayed the plans, though, calling them “nothing more than just a test.”
When queried Thursday about how long T-Mobile has been toying with the idea of its only unlimited offering, Legere said the plan has been in the works for more than two years. He pointed to T-Mobile’s progression toward unlimited everything in its Music Freedom and Binge On programs as proof things were headed in that direction anyway.
When it comes down to it, though, it’s really not a question of copying. While the offers are similar on the surface, there’s a big difference between Sprint’s refreshed unlimited plan and what T-Mobile is trying to do with T-Mobile ONE.
Sprint might score some points with a better unlimited option, but T-Mobile is trying to change the game entirely.