Sprint has announced that they are ending their much-ballyhooed, much-advertised unlimited data plans -- but not for smartphone users.
The company, which is the only major American carrier that has the iPhone and unlimited data plans available for new customers, announced on its website that it was imposing monthly data usage limits for those on their network with mobile broadband devices like tablets, netbooks or notebooks, and those using their smartphones as mobile hotspots. For mobile hotspots on smartphones, the new limit is 5GB per month of combined 3G/4G data, with a 5 cent charge per MB after that; for mobile broadband customers, the new changes look like this (chart provided by Sprint):
Probably the greatest differentiator and selling point for Sprint against fellow iPhone carriers AT&T and Verizon is the availability of unlimited data for smartphones; this has not ended with these changes, but it has some analysts and writers worried that, like AT&T and Verizon already have, Sprint could axe those plans in the future. Sprint is currently the third-largest mobile carrier in America and has reportedly"bet the company"on the iPhone as its saving grace. So far, the reports are that the already poorly-rated Sprint 3G network is having trouble accomodating all the new iPhones.
Though Sprint did not give a motive for ending the mobile broadband and mobile hotspot unlimited plans, perhaps the company is hoping to free up some network space and appease its upset iPhone owners.