Sprint intros 3 GB, 10 GB mobile broadband options, but remains uncompetitive

Sprint Nextel (NYSE:S) rejiggered the pricing and usage options for its EV-DO and WiMAX data-only service plans, but the carrier's new selections remain more complex and expensive than those of Sprint's rivals.

Current Analysis' Deepa Karthikeyan noted the changes, which affect pricing for Sprint's EV-DO and WiMAX portable hotspots, USB modems and tablets. Be warned, the changes are not easy to explain: Sprint's new $44.99 plan offers 3 GB per month and is available for its tablet and mobile hotspot users. The carrier's new $89.99 plan offers 10 GB per month is available on all its mobile broadband plans. The carrier also offers a new bundled option that essentially cuts $10 off the monthly bill of subscribers who opt for a hotspot, tablet or USB modem plan combined with one of the carrier's Simply Everything and Everything Data plans (but the bundle option is not available to users of Sprint's $49.99 WiMAX-only "Mobile Broadband Connection" plan or its $29.99 plan for tablets that offers 2 GB per month.) Finally, data remains unlimited on Sprint's WiMAX service. Got all that?

Thankfully, Karthikeyan provided some helpful context: "Although the new plans add more flavor to the carrier's lineup and the bundled pricing option rewards loyalty, the carrier continues to price its broadband plans higher than those of its competitors. On an à la carte basis, Sprint's new plans are highly uncompetitive as they are each priced $10 more than equivalent options from Verizon Wireless, AT&T and T-Mobile. Even with the discounts included in its bundle options, the plans still compare unfavorably with T-Mobile, who offers a 20 percent discount on bundled plans, bringing the cost of its 10 GB plan down to an aggressive $68 per month."

Sprint's latest tweaks come as the nation's wireless carriers work to expand their data-only offerings and attack new opportunities, such as tablets. While AT&T Mobility (NYSE:T), Verizon Wireless and T-Mobile all have been aggressive in the tablet area--Verizon and AT&T sell Apple's (NASDAQ:AAPL) iPad 2, Verizon recently launched Motorola Mobility's (NYSE:MMI) Xoom tablet, and T-Mobile offers the LG G-Slate tablet--Sprint has been relatively quiet on the tablet front. However, Sprint recently began selling the Wi-Fi-only Motorola Xoom, and plans a WiMAX version of Research In Motion's (NASDAQ:RIMM) BlackBerry PlayBook for this summer.

For more:
- see Sprint's site

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Article updated May 12 with corrections from Sprint.