updated 11:35 am EST, Wed February 20, 2008
Sprint May Start Price War
Sprint is poised to fire the first shot in what may be a price war for unlimited cellphone calling, say analyst reports. UBS researcher John Hodulik believes that the provider is likely to offer an unlimited plan that would cost at most $80 per month but may be as low as $60 -- a 40 percent drop over just-announced $100 plans from AT&T, T-Mobile, and Verizon. The wide gap could force other carriers to drop their own prices, the analyst says, potentially leading to a succession of rate cuts or feature bundles from rivals concerned about losing customers to Sprint.
Sprint has not commented on the accuracy of the claims but is believed to need such a step to halt a gradual decline in its customer base. T-Mobile is smaller than Sprint and has already included unlimited SMS text messaging in its $100 subscription fee to help differentiate its own service from AT&T and Verizon plans.
Any such discount is expected to have a dramatic impact on the US cell service industry. Until this week, most national carriers have relied exclusively on metered service for voice calls while reserving unlimited plans for extra features such as Internet access and messages. AT&T's plans in particular have also eliminated longstanding limits on smartphones, adding unlimited calling plans for BlackBerries, Windows Mobile devices, and the iPhone.