Sprint (NYSE:S) worked with Facebook (NASDAQ:FB) to develop a Facebook application that lets customers invite friends on Facebook to join a Sprint "Framily" group plan. The collaboration is novel and an indication that Sprint is putting a great deal of emphasis on the plans, which were unveiled in January.
Customers can access the app through https://now.sprint.com/framilyapp and the app lets them share their Framily ID with friends. Further, Sprint said, the app will make it easy for friends to make an appointment at their local Sprint store to sign up for the plan. A customer's Facebook friends can also share the Framily information with their social network and grow the Framily group.
Framily plans are available to new and existing Sprint customers and have a limit of 10 phone numbers per group. New Sprint customers pay $55 per month per line for unlimited talk, text and 1 GB of data. For each new Sprint customer joining a Framily group, the cost per person drops $5 a month up to a maximum monthly discount of $30 per line. A group of at least seven people can get unlimited talk, text and 1 GB of data for $25 per month per line, excluding taxes and surcharges.
In addition, Framily members can each pay $20 per month per line to buy unlimited data plus get a new phone every year, or they can add 1 GB or 3 GB per month to their plan. If customers travel over their data allotment they will be charged overage fees. Under the plans there are no annual service contracts and customers pay month to month. There are also no Early Termination Fees as part of the plans.
Sprint said the Facebook app was developed in collaboration with the social networking giant.
It's still early days for Framily, which is Sprint's way of setting itself apart amid a widening price war among the Tier 1 carriers. Just before Sprint unveiled Framily, T-Mobile US (NYSE:TMUS) announced it would pay off customers' early termination fees if they switch to T-Mobile and trade in their devices.
AT&T Mobility (NYSE:T) in December launched its Mobile Share Value plans, which lowered prices for customers who join the carrier's Next handset upgrade program as well as those who bring their own phone, who buy a phone at full price, or who are no longer under contract. AT&T also recently cut prices on its higher-end Mobile Share shared data plans.
Verizon Wireless (NYSE:VZ) then updated its shared data plans last month, changing the name of the plans from "Share Everything" to "More Everything" and increasing the data allotments for some plans.
However, Sprint executives have said they have been encouraged so far by the response to the mew Framily plans. "We've only been in the market for a month, and Framily is currently only available in Sprint-branded channels, but we are pleased with early adoption of the Framily plans," Sprint CEO Dan Hesse said on the company's fourth-quarter earnings conference call on Feb. 11, according to a Seeking Alpha transcript. "Our field sales reps are energized by the early customer response, and we are encouraged that more than 60 percent of gross additions on Framily to date are choosing the unlimited data and annual upgrade buy up option."
Hesse also said: "We're seeing more focus on families, and that's why we believe that differentiating our plan, with our Framily plan, going beyond, if you will, the traditional family plans and addressing 60 percent of the potential market in group plans, and those are households with fewer people, gives us an edge in the market."
Still, Sprint has said it expects overall postpaid churn to be high in the first half of 2014 and show gradual improvement beginning in the second half.
- see this Sprint post
Sprint CFO: Installment pricing, promotions helped juice Q4 tablet numbers
Sprint beats analyst expectations with 477,000 new subscribers in Q4
Sprint kills 'One Up' handset upgrade plan less than 4 months after launch
Sprint kicks off Framily, a group-based calling plan