Sprint reveals new family data plans to take on the wireless competition

In its first major move since appointing a new chief executive after merger plans fell through with rival T-Mobile US, wireless carrier Sprint has announced new family rate plans that more closely resemble those of its competitors. 

Andrew Kelly/Reuters/File
People walk past a Sprint store in New York on December 17, 2012.

Wireless carrier Sprint announced Monday new rates for family plans that offers 20 gigabytes of data for up to 10 lines and unlimited calling and texting for $100 a month. 

Designed to turn the struggling company into a legitimate competitor on the wireless landscape, the move comes on the heels of Sprint's failed acquisition of rival T-Mobile US as a result of US regulators believing that four, not three, wireless companies were best for US consumers. Since then, Sprint has installed Marcelo Claure, founder of the wireless company Brightstar, as the company's new chief executive who is tasked with streamlining operations and focusing on internal growth. The company's previous CEO, Dan Hesse, was losing customers on a monthly basis every year beginning in 2007, Bloomberg reports. 

Now, at a time when wireless companies have increasingly abandoned the practice of unlimited data, Sprint's new family share plan is an attempt to give consumers high-speed data at a competitive price. 

"Sprint is offering the best value to data-hungry consumers. Period," Mr. Claure said in a statement. "We are doubling the high-speed wireless data because today’s customers rely so much on their smartphones and tablets. We make it simple and easy for wireless consumers to get the data they need at affordable prices to make their lives easier, more productive and enjoyable." 

He adds: "We are so certain that this is the best value on wireless today that for any customer who wants to switch to our new Sprint Family Share Pack, we will reimburse them for the cost to end their contract with another carrier." Specifically, Sprint is offering to buy out families' existing contracts with another carrier for up to $350. 

Still, customers can only get the cheapest prices if they are leaving another carrier to join Sprint and bringing over their existing number. Further, a chunk of Sprint's perks are only available on a limited-time basis. For example, families of up to 10 lines will also get an additional 2 gigabytes of data for the same price of $100 a month – but only through 2015. And the $100 per month price tag is only available through 2015. The sign-up period for customers begins Friday and concludes at the end of September. 

Absent this temporary offer, customers pay $160 per month for a plan with four lines, while a plan with 10 lines would pay $250 per month. At the same price as competitor AT&T, customers get double the amount of data, Bloomberg notes. Customers choose their data plans, the number of phones on the plan, and the number of separate devices, such as tablets, that they want included on their plans. 

This practice marks the end of Sprint's "Framily plans," in which customers could sign up with friends and family members and not be charged on a single bill. Customers with Framily Plans will be able to keep their existing plans or transition over to a new shared plan. All-in-one family plans have become the norm across the wireless industry, another example of Sprint re-aligning its business practices to go head-to-head with its competitors. 

Nevertheless, T-Mobile US' outspoken chief executive John Legere – who seems to have not missed a beat in criticizing the company it previously courted in merger talks – taunted Sprint's abandonment of the "framily" plan on Twitter. 


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