Sprint, a long-time U.S. proponent of unlimited data, has announced that it will begin offering shared data plans to customers in limited channels. The carrier will continue singing about the merits of unlimited, un-throttled data to customers in the consumer market, but Sprint is now offering a limited-time trial of shared data plans for small business customers.
The time-limited shared data plan promotion will run through June 13 for businesses in select Sprint channels. According to Ina Fried of All Things D, the new plans will allow customers to share up to 20 GB of data on 10 smartphones, 40 GB on 20 devices, or 60 GB on 30 devices. “Customers pay a set fee for the data and the first device, with an additional per-device fee for each phone, hotspot or tablet that is added to the plan,” Fried reports.
This shows that Sprint is softening up on shared data plans and if customers take the bait, the carrier may begin to more widely offer new shared data plans.
Sprint’s larger rivals, AT&T Mobility and Verizon Wireless, have been offering shared data plans for some time now. These proponents of shared data argue that it will save customers with multiple data devices–smartphones, tablets, and connected hotspots and modems–money in the long-term. Verizon Wireless is now only offering shared data plans for new customers, which bundles unlimited text and voice minutes along with a set number of data. Customers adding another device to the shared pool will pay an additional set fee, similar to an add-a-line fee for voice minutes. AT&T continues to offer standalone packages as well as shared data packages.
Though Sprint is still singing the praises of unlimited data plans tied to a single smartphone for consumers, the carrier will probably need to reevaluate the costs of rising data usage, especially in light of its emerging LTE network. With faster speeds, customers will find that they can do more and will want to do more with their phones. AT&T and Verizon have switched to metered plans to make data use more manageable for the network. For now, though, Sprint is boasting unlimited as its unique selling point.
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