Sprint Dropping Unlimited 4G For Most Broadband Devices
Sprint has announced plans to eliminate unlimited 4G data usage plans for most broadband devices, including tablets, netbooks, and laptop computers, the telecom company announced on Thursday.
According to Casey Johnston of Ars Technica, USB connection cards and mobile hotspots will also be affected under the new plan, which goes into effect starting next month. Johnston says that the company will now combine 3G and 4G data use and institute caps, charging additional fees for overages. These restrictions will not apply to mobile phones not used for tethering.
The announcement was posted October 20 to the customer support section of Sprint’s official website, IDG News Reporter Stephen Lawson said, and will not apply to the Apple iPhone, which was introduced by the company last week.
“The change eliminates one of the key differentiators Sprint had used to market its services against larger rivals Verizon Wireless and AT&T,” Lawson added. “Those carriers had already capped their data plans, and the nation’s fourth-largest operator, T-Mobile USA, announced in April that it would throttle the connection speed of customers who exceeded 2GB of data usage per month.”
CNET’s Marguerite Reardon notes that Sprint will charge those who exceed their monthly caps an overage fee of 5 cents per MB, starting with the next billing cycle.
“The company’s latest move calls into question how long the unlimited data plan for smartphones will last,” she added in an October 21 article. “It’s clear that Sprint’s entree into the iPhone market has leveled the playing field among the three nationwide wireless carriers. And Sprint’s unlimited data service is a competitive advantage now that AT&T and Verizon Wireless each cap their services.”
Reardon contacted a Sprint spokesperson who confirmed that the company had no plans to halt unlimited data use or begin the practice of “throttling” — slowing down the data speeds of the percentage of those customers with the highest data usage each month.
“She also added that the majority of Sprint’s existing mobile broadband customers use less than the amount of data included in their plan, even when 3G and 4G usage are combined. As a result, she said, most customers won’t see any change to their plan,” the CNET reporter added.
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