Sprint Nextel (NYSE:S) confirmed that it will launch a Sprint-branded no-contract service Jan. 25 that will offer unlimited talk, text and data on feature phones and smartphones. The carrier also said it will not throttle or otherwise limit the data usage on its new prepaid plans.
Further, the carrier said that one of the two phones it is offering through the service, the Android-powered Samsung Victory, will connect to the carrier's LTE network.
The blog Android Police earlier this week reported that Sprint would launch its Sprint As You Go brand later this month. Sprint As You Go will offer two plans: a $70 per month plan for smartphones that includes unlimited voice, texting and data, and a $50 per month plan for feature phones that includes unlimited voice, texting and data. The plans will support 1xRTT data roaming but not EV-DO data roaming, and they won't support premium Sprint features like smartphone Wi-Fi hotspots and Sprint Navigation.
Sprint will sell four phones for the service, two feature phones and two smartphones. The two smartphones will be the LG Optimus Elite for $150 and the Samsung Victory for $250. The LTE-capable Samsung Victory will give users in Sprint's LTE coverage area prepaid access to the carrier's high-speed LTE network.
"This is essentially a retail initiative for Sprint-branded stores only, created for customers who have an affinity for the Sprint brand and have indicated they want a no-contract option," explained Sprint spokeswoman Jayne Wallace. "As for our prepaid brands, this actually allows us to strengthen the focus on our primary prepaid sales channels."
Sprint currently offers prepaid service though its Boost Mobile, Virgin Mobile and Assurance Wireless brands. Wallace said Sprint As You Go will not be a brand on the same level as Boost or Virgin; instead, it will be an offering available only through Sprint stores for those customers who want a no-contract option. (Wallace clarified that Sprint As You Go is a no-contract service, not a prepaid service, because ccstomers receive a bill and pay in arrears.) She said Sprint As You Go will not be sold through Sprint's indirect or resale distribution channels.
That Sprint won't throttle the speeds of its Sprint As You Go offering is notable. Starting this year, both Boost and Virgin will throttle the data speeds of customers who exceed 2.5 GB of data usage per month. Sprint has long offered unlimited, unthrottled data to its postpaid subscribers under its Simply Everything plans, a strategy that sets Sprint apart from AT&T Mobility (NYSE:T), Verizon Wireless (NYSE:VZ) and other carriers that have taken a tiered approach to data pricing.
In the third quarter Sprint added a net total of 19,000 prepaid customers. However, that included net additions of 459,000 prepaid Sprint platform customers, and was offset by net losses of 440,000 prepaid Nextel platform customers. Sprint is shutting down the Nextel iDEN network this year and expects to continue to lose Nextel customers as it does so, though the company is working to migrate those subscribers to its CDMA network.
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Article updated Jan. 11 to clarify that Sprint As You Go is a no-contract service, not a prepaid service.