Sprint seems to have taken notice of T-Mobile's latest market moves and is angling to attract some new customers of its own. The third-largest wireless carrier is offering The Sprint Unlimited Guarantee, which effectively guarantees customers unlimited talk to any wireline or mobile
phone, text and data -- for the life of the line of service.
Sprint also introduced "Unlimited, My Way" and "Unlimited, My All-In" plans. Both new and existing customers can opt for the plans, which rolled out on Friday. The plans may intend to combat T-Mobile's "uncarrier" deals, but don't go as far as financing phones on the front end, or offering a $10 a month option that lets you trade in your phone every six months.
The new Unlimited, My Way and My All-In rate plans feature unlimited talk, text and data while on the Sprint network for as little as $80 per month. Here's the difference:
With the Unlimited, My Way plan, Sprint customers can also customize their wireless plan to meet their family's needs, including mixing smartphones and basic phones, selecting their data options, and adding up to 10 lines all on the same account.
As customers add additional lines to their account, Sprint said they can save more on each line every month. For example, on lines four to 10, customers can get unlimited talk, text and data for as little as $50 per month.
Sprint said the Unlimited, My Way plan can offer customers a savings when compared to competitor's capped data plans. For example, smartphone customers can save $20 per month vs. Verizon's comparable plan with only 2 GB of data.
Sprint's Unlimited, All-In plan offers unlimited everything for a handset, and also includes 5 GB monthly hotspot use, for $110.
Although the deals seem compelling compared with AT&T and Verizon, competitors are likely to argue that Sprint CEO Dan Hesse is stretching it with comments that insist Sprint is leading the industry "in providing customers with simplicity and value."
"Sprint customers won't have to worry about their wireless bill or managing their family's wireless usage," Hesse said. "While other wireless providers are moving away from unlimited service, Sprint champions it."
Overcoming Past Perceptions
Rob Enderle, principal analyst at the Enderle Group, told us Sprint and T-Mobile are in a race for last place among the top four. Both companies are trying hard to get out of the weeds in a market that AT&T and Verizon define.
"Verizon and AT&T will care if a lot of customers go over to Sprint. The difficulty for Sprint is that a lot of customers that left the carrier did so for a reason. Getting them back is going to be a problem unless they believe they are going to get a better experience," Enderle said.
"There's a perception around both Sprint and T-Mobile that you pay less money but there will be lots of places where you can't connect to the network. Those problems have been reduced over time but the perceptions still exist. Until they can deal with the perception -- and make people believe they can get an equivalent service for less -- I'm not sure how much good pricing and plans will do."