Sprint targets Verizon with $50 unlimited plan as war over unlimited data escalates

Sprint’s John Saw (Sprint)
Sprint CTO John Saw

Sprint fired the latest salvo in the new battleground of unlimited data.

The nation’s fourth-largest carrier knocked $10 a month off the price of its unlimited plan for customers who switch from other carriers, offering a single line for $50 a month with a second line still offered for an additional $40 a month. Users can add up to two more lines for the same price, so new accounts with four lines can pay $22.50 for each line.

Sprint also added HD video and 10 GB of mobile tethering per line, just as T-Mobile did with its unlimited plan earlier this week. And T-Mobile’s move came on the heels of the introduction of Verizon’s unlimited plan, which marked a notable reversal of the carrier’s long-held policy of declining to offer unlimited service.

Verizon’s new plan also includes HD video and 10 GB of LTE hotspot access. The unlimited plans of both T-Mobile and Sprint had previously limited video to 480p and didn’t include tethering.

T-Mobile’s unlimited plan starts at $70 a month for a single line, and two lines are available for $100 a month. Verizon offers a single line of unlimited data for $80 a month with a second line for $60 a month.

“Only Sprint can offer the best price for unlimited—50 percent off Verizon and AT&T unlimited plans—and a network that can handle demands to meet customers’ needs,” Sprint CEO Marcelo Claure said in a press release. “Our unmatched spectrum position gives us a clear competitive advantage in a high-capacity unlimited world.”

Sprint and T-Mobile ignited the battle over unlimited data last August when both carriers launched new plans—although both offerings came with restrictions. AT&T also offers an unlimited data plan, although it is available only to subscribers of its DirecTV service.

The sudden price war over unlimited data services underscores an extremely competitive U.S. wireless market where growth has slowed to a crawl. Some analysts have expressed concerns that networks may not be able to meet ever-increasing demand for mobile data—particularly for HD video—but Sprint continues to maintain that its spectrum assets will enable it to deliver unlimited services even at a lower price point that its competitors.

“Sustaining this undertaking over the long term requires a depth of spectrum that Verizon may not have,” Sprint CTO John Saw said in a company blog post. “With holdings of 204 MHz of spectrum, Sprint has more spectrum capacity than Verizon, AT&T and T-Mobile. We’re confident in our ability to serve our customers now and in the future because we hold more spectrum capacity than any other carrier in the U.S. A lot more.”