Sprint (NYSE: S) said it will reduce the cost of its 12 GB and 16 GB shared data plans by $10, another move by the carrier to juice its subscriber additions as it enters the critical fourth-quarter holiday shopping season.
Specifically, Sprint said it is cutting its "data access charge" from $25 per month to $15 per month on its $80 and $90 Sprint Family Share Pack plans. The promotion is available from Nov. 14, 2014, to Jan. 15, 2015. Customers who sign up during the promotional period will pay the $15 access fee as long as they remain with the plans, which also provide unlimited voice and texting. The $80 plan provides 12 GB and the $90 plan provides 16 GB of data.
Sprint's pricing tweaks are just the latest in a long line from the nation's top carriers. For example, a recent promotion from Verizon Wireless (NYSE: VZ), provides new and existing Verizon customers who choose its $80 per month More Everything shared data plan with 10 GB of data, up from 6 GB before. Those who choose the $100 plan can get 15 GB of data, up from 10 GB before.
For Sprint, the tweaks are its latest since CEO Marcelo Claure took over from Dan Hesse in August. Shortly after taking the helm, Claure discontinued Sprint's poorly received Framily plans and replaced them with shared data plans that offer twice the amount of data when compared with similar plans from Verizon and AT&T Mobility (NYSE: T). For individuals, Sprint is offering unlimited data plans that are $20 less expensive than similar plans from T-Mobile US (NYSE:TMUS).
And Sprint said that its new pricing offerings are starting to make a difference. As a result of the new plans, Sprint said its postpaid phone gross additions grew 37 percent month-over-month in September, and its postpaid phone net losses slowed by nearly 60 percent in September. Sprint also said its postpaid upgrade rate was 8 percent in the third quarter, and that figure will grow to as much as 12 percent in the fourth quarter.
Nonetheless, the new plans couldn't reverse Sprint's overall declines during the third quarter. The carrier said it lost 336,000 total retail postpaid subscribers during the period, the company's 11th straight quarter of postpaid subscriber declines.
Although Sprint continues to reduce its service prices, some carriers have vowed not to get caught in a race to the bottom. For example, Verizon executives have said the carrier is going to continue to play a conservative game in terms of its pricing strategy and will not overreact to price cuts by rivals, according to a report from financial analysts who met with the carrier's top executives.
Similarly, at an investor conference Wednesday, AT&T CEO Randall Stephenson said he thinks pricing changes will continue to occur and that if AT&T thinks it needs to respond it will do so. Yet he also signaled AT&T would not get drawn into a larger price war. "We don't think we need to be a pricing leader" given the company's "premier" smartphone customer base, he said.
- see this Sprint release
- see this CNET article
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