Sprint may end its unlimited plans if it begins carrying the iPhone 5, despite claiming it offers simplicity and value over other carriers.
The Overland Park, Kan.-based company’s CTO Stephen Bye said it is “open to different business models,” touching on a possible departure from unlimited plans.
Bye indicated Sprint would not continue to offer unlimited plans for the long haul, but he did highlight the benefits the company sees from offering them. Bye said mobile providers who do not have unlimited plans have to field more customer phones calls and complaints, largely because consumers are concerned with overage charges on their bills.
Sprint would love to keep offering unlimited data plans to differentiate itself from its competition, but Frye highlighted the overall consumer shift to data as the biggest hindrance. The growth of smartphones has changed the way networks are built, according to Bye — there is now just as much emphasis on data as there is on voice service when evaluating a service.
Bye’s company has been able to avoid eliminating its unlimited data plans, largely because it has not been carrying the iPhone, the top-selling handset in the U.S. AT&T and Verizon both moved to capped data plans after the iPhone became a part of their networks. Now, with analysts almost certain Apple will announce the iPhone 5 is coming to Sprint on October 4, the carrier may be forced to follow in the footsteps of its competitors.
Sprint is set to hold an event on October 7 where it will announce a “Strategy Update.” The event may be a perfect opportunity for the carrier to talk about the data packages it plans to offer with the iPhone 5 if it ends up getting the device. Bye said he’s not in a position to comment on whether or not the company will sell the device, but thinks the carrier has done tremendously well without it.
The iPhone 5 coming to Sprint may mean that unlimited data plans have to go, but given the amount of business the device could bring the carrier, it may likely prove to be a worthy sacrifice.
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