Sprint quietly launches $40-a-month alternative to unlimited for 2 GB of data

While its primary focus is unlimited plans, Sprint now has three lower-priced alternatives available, Wave7 Research reported.

Sprint has quietly introduced a cheaper tiered plan to retain customers who aren’t interested in its new unlimited data offerings.

The nation’s fourth-largest carrier introduced its $60-a-month “Unlimited Freedom” last August, helping to spark an unlimited-data battle that has been joined by every other major wireless operator in the United States. And last month it lowered the price of the plan to $50, streamlining its offerings and eliminating tiered plans.

But it recently launched a plan that includes 2 GB of data a month for $45—or $40 for customers who pay automatically—in what appears to be a “back-pocket” offering for users who don’t consume much data, Wave7 Research reported.

Sprint “suffered in the days after its 4/7 move to only sell unlimited and now has three alternatives to unlimited—a new $45 2 GB plan, the $40 4 GB Affordable Choice plan at national retail, and Sprint Prepaid,” Wave7 reported in a note to subscribers. The new plan is not heavily advertised in stores, Wave7 said, and is designed to retain customers who may balk at the pricier, unlimited plan.

Sprint Chief Marketing Officer Roger Solé said last month that “more than 90%” of the carrier’s customers are signing on to unlimited plans," but a Sprint representative confirmed the launch of the cheaper offering.

“Sprint’s unlimited plans are hugely popular with customers—in fact, we’ve found that since we launched Unlimited Freedom, the majority of customers wanted unlimited as their monthly plan,” spokeswoman Kathleen Dunleavy said via email. “However, there is a subset of our customers who would like a plan that is a little more affordable and hence we are offering in addition to unlimited, a 2 GB plan for $40 (with autopay). As you’ve probably seen, this plan is not being advertised because our main focus is, and will remain, unlimited. This is what customers really want.”

Sprint is also positioning its prepaid offerings as an alternative to its unlimited plans, and it’s preparing to relaunch its Virgin brand in a move that could couple used iPhones with less expensive unlimited service. And it isn’t backing down from the unlimited battleground: “I welcome the unlimited war,” Sprint Chairman Masayoshi Son said last week, “because (other) operators don’t have the spectrum.”