Comparing Unlimited Phone Plans
Sprint has launched a new “unlimited” voice/text/data plan called “All-In.” The fourth-largest mobile carrier says that “All-In” means all the charges are in one advertised price, eliminating unpleasant surprises. Let’s see how true that is…
Some Unlimited Plans are More Unlimited than Others
Sprint's $80/month All-In plan includes $60/month for “unlimited” service plus $20/month to lease one of three eligible handsets: the Apple iPhone 6 (16GB), Samsung Galaxy S6 (32GB) and HTC One M9 (32GB). No down payment is required on the hardware, but there is a $35 activation fee. Taxes and government fees are variable. That’s nice and simple.
But then it gets complicated. There’s an optional “Early Upgrade” fee of $10/month that you can tack onto your bill. After paying it for 12 consecutive months, you can upgrade to a new phone instead of waiting another 12 months. So, impatience costs $120. Oh, and if you’re on a standard two-year service contract, Early Upgrade is unavailable; it’s only offered to customers who are buying phones via the Easy Pay installment plan or who lease their phones from Sprint.
The $60/month service charge is actually $10 more than existing customers pay under Sprint’s “iPhone for Life” plan, which All-In replaces for new customers. Existing iPhone for Life customers are grandfathered in, until the end of their contract (or their life, one assumes).
How unlimited is Sprint’s “unlimited” 4G service? Sprint stopped throttling heavy data users shortly after the FCC slapped AT&T with a $100 million fine for throttling data speeds by up to 95 percent. Initially, the All-In service announcement included a speed limit of 600 Kbps (3G) on video streaming. But the backlash was so immediate and intense that Sprint lifted that speed limit the very next day (July 1), promising not to throttle video unless Sprint’s network gets congested. (Prediction: It will get congested.)
T-mobile also offers “unlimited” data at 4G speeds, coincidentally for $80/month ($50 base price with a 1 GB cap, plus $30 for truly unlimited data and speed). But on top of that $80 you’ll pay $27.08 per month for a supported phone. Another $10/month gives you the option to upgrade early. You’re allowed up to three upgrades per year, but after the first one your monthly bill jumps $12, to $107.08.
What About AT&T and Verizon?
No, there’s nothing simple or cheap about unlimited phone service. AT&T and Verizon don't even offer unlimited data in their plans. Perhaps with their market dominance they feel they don't need to do so. So let's compare pricing based on their 10GB offerings.
AT&T charges $100/month for service with 10 GB, $27.08 for the phone, and $15 per line. That’s $142.08 per month, per line. Verizon charges $80/month for up to 10 GB of data, plus $27.08 for a phone; plus $15/month line charge. That’s $122.08 per month, per line.
Both AT&T and Verizon assess overage fees if you exceed your monthly data allowance. Sprint and T-Mobile offer "unlimited" data in their plans.
Incidentally, those Verizon figures are for new customers only. I have had five lines with Verizon for a long time, and pay $40/month line charges. When I saw the offer with the $15/month line charge, I called right away, because that would save me $125 per month. No dice, they said. That's the price you pay for loyalty.
The bottom line is that Sprint’s All-In beats the other three carriers. Its closest competition is T-mobile, which costs $27.08 more per month. That's a good deal, if you live in an area with a decent Sprint signal, and you're okay with just three phones to choose from from.
Now, if only Sprint can beef up its network, widely considered the weakest of the Big Four carriers, the All-In deal would make Sprint an obvious choice.
Your thoughts on this topic are welcome. Post your comment or question below...
This article was posted by Bob Rankin on 3 Jul 2015
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Article information: AskBobRankin -- Comparing Unlimited Phone Plans (Posted: 3 Jul 2015)
Copyright © 2005 - Bob Rankin - All Rights Reserved