Sprint launches flat-rate Nextel Direct Connect plans

Sprint Nextel launched a new series of flat-rate, unlimited plans for Nextel Direct Connect customers. The cheapest plan, which includes unlimited Direct Connect and Group Connect service plus unlimited text messaging, mobile-to-mobile minutes and night and weekend minutes starts at $29.99 per month per line. For unlimited data, web browsing and GPS service for Nextel phones, the plan runs $39.99 per month per line, and $49.99 per month per line for PowerSource and Nextel Direct Connect-capable Sprint phones.

Last week Boost Mobile launched a $50 per month unlimited voice and data plan on the iDEN network causing analysts to worry that it would spark a price war between Sprint and other Tier-1 carriers.

"Sprint launched some new rate plans today which should help them target the push to talk (PTT) customers more precisely but frankly should not have a major impact on their gross additions. It does reflect a refocus of the company on PTT by offering an unlimited rate plan for PTT only. In the past, postpaid users had to bundle telephone minutes," Pali Research analyst Walter Piecyk wrote in a blog post. "But don't get too excited on thinking this is a price cut. Boost users could already get unlimited PTT for $1 per day."

Piecyk said that the next big move for Sprint will come when it announces fourth quarter earnings and subscriber numbers in February. He said analysts expect a drop in subscribers and potentially significant layoffs for the carrier.

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