Update: It looks like the iPhone 5 won’t be part of the BYOSD program from Sprint. The Now Network had reached out to us to let us know that the iPhone 5 will not be part of this program, though select Android handsets will be part of BYOSD.
Through a new Bring Your Own Sprint Device (BYOSD) program, U.S. wireless carrier Sprint has announced a new initiative that would allow deactivated Sprint phones for use on prepaid and MVNO partner networks. This program would help both MVNO carriers who buy Sprint’s airtime and data usage wholesale and resells them at a lower cost than what Sprint would offer at retail as well as customers and the environment.
For MVNO partners, this program would help these partners save money on subsidy costs. Typically, as most MVNOs are generally operated on a prepaid basis, these carriers do not offer much by the way of subsidies, but the device selection for MVNO partners are generally more limited. MVNOs tend to not get the hottest flagship smartphones–like the latest 4G LTE Android devices or the newest iPhone models–when these devices first become available. MVNOs are typically not large enough or may not have enough capital to negotiate with Apple on bringing the latest iPhone for their customers and this move will help make these hot smartphones more widely available.
BYOSD means that customers can buy these devices for the full retail price via Sprint–if they choose–and use it on an MVNO that makes use of Sprint’s Now Network.
BYOSD is intended to help Mobile Virtual Network Operators (MVNOs) address the growing number of inactive devices in the marketplace and offset the phone subsidy burden through the reactivation of used and inactive Sprint-branded devices on qualified MVNO price plans.
For customers who are switching from Sprint to an MVNO–like Ting–this would help save money. Customers can bring an existing Sprint device to an MVNO, provided that the device is compatible with the MVNO’s system, and use it there rather than having to purchase a brand new device. Moreover, this would also allow customers to have a broader selection of devices that are available to them rather than the more limited and typically low-end or mid-range smartphones that are offered by many of today’s MVNO carrier partners.
Unfortunately, some of Sprint’s MVNOs may be left out initially because of network compatibility. For example, one of the most affordable MVNOs, Republic Wireless, may not be able to easily reuse Sprint’s older devices as phones for Republic Wireless must come with special pre-loaded software that allows these customers to be able to make calls over WiFi networks as well as Sprint’s network.
And by allowing customers to use old Sprint devices and re-use devices when they switch to an MVNO, this would be an eco-friendly move on Sprint’s part to help keep devices out of landfills. By Sprint’s estimates, some 135 million cell phones are thrown out each year and reusing or recycling these old devices could save enough energy to power over 24,000 homes for a whole year.
Sprint’s new initiative comes just as the debate about legalizing unlocking phones is becoming a hot topic in the U.S. It’s good to see a carrier take initiative by providing choice, offering cost savings to consumers, and help to reduce waste all at the same time. Sprint is also proactive and is making its LTE network open for use by prepaid brands as well as MVNOs.