With a new chief executive at the helm, Sprint this week announced an aggressively priced plan that launches Friday and heavily caters toward families of four or more who use large amounts of data.
FOR THE RECORD
An earlier version of this post incorrectly said AT&T charged $25 per line for every non-contract smartphone, no matter how much data a family shares. It also incorrectly said that all customers who sign up for the Sprint Family Share Pack before October do not have to pay for each phone line they add. Sprint said that applies only to customers who sign up with plans of 20 gigabytes of data or more.
Under the new plan, called the Sprint Family Share Pack, a family of four will get unlimited talk and text and share 20 gigabytes of data for $160 a month. A more detailed breakout of the plan can be found below. The company said it will also offer to pay up to $350 in early-termination fees for new customers who leave their current carriers for Sprint before October.
Existing customers do not have to worry about switching over as Sprint said that it will continue to offer its current plans. Here's a comparison of Sprint's new plan, its older "Framily" plan, and similar unlimited talk and text plans from its rivals.
Sprint Family Share Pack
In the Sprint Family Share Pack, customers choose how much data they want to share, starting with 600 megabytes for $20 per month and going up to 60 GB for $225. They can add as many lines they want. For plans with 16 GB or less, each non-contract line costs $25. For plans of 20 GB or more, the price falls to $15 per line. In all plans, phones on contracts cost $40 per line.
Sprint boasts a family of four using non-contract phones pays $160 per month, which is less than what customers pay for similar plans from AT&T, Verizon or T-Mobile. But the price will be even less for customers who sign up before October for plans of 20 GB or more because Sprint will only charge them for data, not the additional fee for each line, until the end of 2015.
This means customers who sign up from now until Sept. 30 can get 20 GB of data for $100, no matter how many lines they add to their plan. Families who want less, can get 8 GB or 12 GB per month for $170 or $180, respectively.
Before Monday's new plan, Sprint's main offering was its Framily plan. Under that plan, customers pay for unlimited talk and text and 1 GB of data for each line, with the price of each line decreasing as more are added. For Framily plans with four lines, each line costs $40 per month, meaning the total price is $160 for 1 GB per line. Customers can pay an additional $10 per line per month for 3 GB or $20 per line for unlimited data.
Sprint is still offering this and its other plans, but the company admits the Family Share Pack is a much better deal.
T-Mobile Simple Choice Plan
In terms of value, T-Mobile comes closest to Sprint's new plan. Under T-Mobile's Simple Choice Plan, customers pay $50 per month for their primary line for unlimited talk and text and 2.5 GB of high-speed data. The price of each additional line falls as customers add more lines. But the price goes up if customers opt for more data per line.
For a family of four with the basic 2.5 GB per line, customers will pay $100 per month. For 3 GB each, the plan goes up to $140, $180 for 5 GB each and $220 for unlimited data for each user.
AT&T Mobile Share
AT&T's Mobile Share plan ranges from 300 MB of shared data for $20 per month to 50 GB for $375. For plans with 6 GB or less, customers pay $25 per month per line for non-contract smartphones. For plans with 10 GB or more, customers pay $15 for each non-contract smartphone. Smartphones on contract are always $40 per line.
At those prices, a family of four with non-contract phones sharing 10 GB pays $160 per month or $210 if they go with 20 GB.
Verizon More Everything
Verizon's More Everything plan is structured similarly to AT&T's Mobile Share and the Sprint Family Share Pack. Customers first choose how many lines they want -- $40 per line -- and then how much data they want to share, ranging from 250 MB for $15 per month to 100 GB for $750. Customers on Verizon Edge, meaning their device is off contract, get a $15 discount per line.
Based on these rates, a family of four on Verizon Edge sharing 10 GB on the More Everything Plan pays $160 per month. If they choose to share 20 G,B the price becomes $210 per month.