Sprint rumored to retain unlimited data with iPhone 5 launch, just to sway buyers who may otherwise spring for the AT&T / Verizon Wireless variants and Sprint has postponed the launch of a new rival 4G phone in order to accommodate preparations for the iPhone’s debut. Unlimited data is a significant selling point for Sprint, which offers a package of unlimited voice and data for $99.99 per month…………..
Sprint is serious about making its all-too-likely offering of the iPhone 5 an attrative one and Sprint will offer Apple’s iPhone next month with unlimited data service plans to distinguish itself from rivals AT&T and Verizon. Sprint, the third-largest U.S. wireless carrier plans to begin selling the device in mid-October under a deal with Apple for the next model, the iPhone 5, said the people, who wouldn’t be identified because the plans aren’t public. Becoming the country’s only operator to offer the device with unlimited data service for a flat fee may help Sprint draw customers from AT&T and Verizon Wireless, which already carry the phone. Sprint is struggling to compete against larger rivals and has lost money for 15 consecutive quarters. Michelle Leff Mermelstein, a spokeswoman for Sprint, said the company doesn’t comment on products or services it hasn’t announced. Natalie Harrison, a spokeswoman for Apple, declined to comment on rumors or speculation. Sprint already offers unlimited data plans for smartphones such as RIM‘s BlackBerry and HTC‘s Evo, which runs on Google’s Android operating system. Sprint’s unlimited voice and data service costs $99.99 a month.
AT&T and Verizon charge for data service on top of voice- service plans. AT&T, which has unlimited voice service for $69.99 a month, offers 200 megabytes of data for $15 a month, 2 gigabytes of data for $25 a month or 4 gigabytes of data for $45 a month. Verizon’s data plans for the iPhone start at $30 a month for 2 gigabytes and rise to $80 for 10 gigabytes, in addition to unlimited voice service for $69.99 a month. Unlimited data plans are a draw because they allow customers to surf the Web, share photos or watch videos as much as they want. They’re particularly valuable for people who use mobile devices for applications such as Netflix‘s movie service or Pandora Media‘s streaming music. “The advantage of unlimited is, it’s cheaper for the big users,” Peter Rhamey, an analyst at Bank of Montreal, said in an interview. The plans may draw other customers because “people don’t like bill shock,” he said. “Consumers will pay a premium for unlimited.” The iPhone may not lead to more data use per customer than Sprint already sees from customers who have Android phones. In the first quarter, Android smartphone owners in the U.S. consumed an average of 582 megabytes of data each month, compared with 492 megabytes for iPhone owners. Apple’s iPhone has proved to be a valuable recruitment tool for rivals: Of the 5.6 million smartphones AT&T sold in the second quarter, the device accounted for 3.6 million. A quarter of the subscribers who bought the iPhone were new to AT&T. Sprint has been using the iPhone’s launch as retention tool with its executives, as it expects the addition of the device to boost its stock price and Sprint was unchanged at $3.45 at 4 p.m. on the New York Stock Exchange, and has declined 18 percent this year. Apple dropped $6.66, or 1.7 percent, to $377.48 in Nasdaq Stock Market trading and has climbed 17 percent this year.