Sprint (NYSE:S) launched a new no-contract offering dubbed "Sprint Prepaid" to go after the prepaid market, a brand that will stand apart from Sprint's existing Boost Mobile and Virgin Mobile prepaid brands. The brand's introduction comes amid intensifying competition in the no-contract market.
Samsung's Galaxy S3 is one of the phones supported by Sprint Prepaid.
Sprint Prepaid will replace the Sprint As You Go offering that Sprint launched in January 2013. Sprint As You Go launched with two plans: a $70 per month plan for smartphones that included unlimited voice, texting and data, and a $50 per month plan for feature phones that included unlimited voice, texting and data. Importantly, Sprint did not throttle the speeds of Sprint As You Go customers.
The new Sprint Prepaid service offers two plans. One is $45 per month and offers unlimited voice, texting and Wi-enabled data only. The other is $60 per month and offers unlimited voice, texting and data, though speeds will be throttled after 2.5 GB of usage and video streaming may be limited to 3G speeds.
Sprint said the service Sprint Prepaid is launching with four smartphones: the LTE-capable Samsung Electronics Galaxy S3, the 3G-capable Motorola Moto G, the Sprint Spark-capable Samsung Galaxy S4 mini and a pre-owned Apple iPhone 4S. However, Sprint recently confirmed it will discontinue sales of the S4 mini. It's unclear how that will impact the device's availability for Sprint Prepaid customers; a Sprint spokeswoman did not immediately have a comment. As for the pre-owned Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL) iPhone 4S, customers with that phone will need to use the $60 plan.
Sprint CMO Jeff Hallock said in a statement that Sprint will add more devices for the Sprint Prepaid service throughout the year and that feature phones will be added "soon." Plans for feature phones will be introduced next month.
Interestingly, Sprint is offering a service called Money Express to its Sprint Prepaid customers, which is an app that lets customers with Android-powered smartphones send money, load checks and pay bills. The app also includes a personalized, reloadable, Sprint-branded Visa prepaid card to make purchases anywhere Visa debit is accepted.
Additionally, Sprint Prepaid customers will also be able to access the carrier's Sprint Buyback program, which allows them to trade in an eligible device to earn account credits. At launch, Buyback will be available to Sprint Prepaid customers online only and customers will receive a credit to their account.
Sprint's launch of Sprint Prepaid comes just after the FCC approved AT&T's (NYSE:T) acquisition of Leap Wireless (NASDAQ:LEAP) and its Cricket prepaid brand. AT&T has vowed to retain the Cricket brand and compete aggressively on price in the prepaid market using the brand.
Verizon Wireless (NYSE:VZ) also just launched new prepaid plans for its 3G CDMA network. Called "AllSet," the plans start at $35 per month for feature phones (for 500 voice minutes, unlimited texting and 500 MB of data). The cheapest prepaid smartphone plan starts at $45 per month for unlimited voice and texting and 500 MB of data.
On both feature and smartphones, Verizon AllSet customers can add more data via "Bridge Data," which allows users to add data to their accounts whenever they want. Any unused Bridge Data in a current monthly cycle rolls over to the next cycle. Under Bridge Data, customers can add 500 MB for $5 with a 30-day expiration, 1 GB for $10 with a 90-day expiration or 3 GB for $20 with a 90-day expiration.
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