Sprint today said the HTC 10 will reach its stores on May 13. Sprint is not offering a lease option for the HTC 10, as it does for Apple's iPhone or Samsung's Galaxy S phones. Instead, Sprint will finance the phone for 24 months with payments of $26. An unlocked version of the HTC 10 is already available for sale directly from HTC.com for $699. The phone includes a 5.2-inch quad HD display, Snapdragon 820 processor, 12-megapixel camera, fingerprint sensor, and high-quality sound. It runs Android 6 Marshmallow.
Sprint is rolling out Android 6.0 Marshmallow to the Samsung Galaxy S5 Sport and Galaxy Note Edge. The update is being pushed in phases, which Sprint expects to complete by May 11 for the S5 Sport and May 2 for the Note Edge. In addition to the operating system update, Sprint says the Galaxy Note Edge is also receiving the latest security patches from Samsung and Google. Sprint did not say if the Note Edge update includes the improved Edge Panel behaviors that have been made available to the S6 Edge and S6 Edge+.
WeBoost's Eqo signal booster promises to improve cellular coverage in your home or apartment. Consisting of a booster and antenna, the whole system fits most average dwellings. If you need a few more bars to connect calls, the WeBoost may be what you need. Here is Phonescoop's in-depth report.
Sprint today announced that its LTE Plus wireless service is available across all five boroughs of New York City. LTE Plus relies on Sprint's three LTE bands (800 MHz, 1900 MHz, 2.5 GHz) and carrier aggregation to improve capacity and speed. In particular, Sprint says it doubled the speeds available from some 900 of its 2.5 GHz cell sites around the city. It has also added coverage in areas popular with tourists. Sprint is working with the Metropolitan Transit Authority and Transit Wireless to bring service to all 279 of New York's subway stations. LTE Plus delivers peak speeds in excess of 100Mbps on capable devices.
Sprint appears to have had second thoughts about selling the BlackBerry Priv smartphone. In January, BlackBerry CEO John Chen said the device — initially an AT&T exclusive — would reach Sprint, T-Mobile, and Verizon Wireless. Since then, T-Mobile and Verizon have launched the Android-based slider. Sprint has not. When questioned on Twitter, the official SprintCares account told consumers, "Sorry to say but we will no longer carry the BlackBerry Priv. If this changes in the future we will update customers." When asked directly, a Sprint representative said to Phonescoop, "At this time, Sprint does not have an availability date to share for bringing a smartphone from BlackBerry into our device lineup." BlackBerry has not commented on Sprint's change in plans. BlackBerry sold only 600,000 smartphones during its most recent quarter and cut the Priv's retail price from $699 to $649.
Sprint has agreed to sell select network assets to a company called Network LeaseCo and then lease back those assets for an unspecified sum. The move is meant to boost Sprint's cash position and will eventually add $2.2 billion to the company's coffers. Sprint will rely on the assets as collateral to generate loans from SoftBank and other external entities. Sprint has about $6 billion in cash on hand and will use the $2.2 billion infusion to cover debts. In 2008, Sprint made a similar move by selling many of its cell towers to TowerCo. Sprint then leased back access to those towers.
The FCC on Thursday followed through on plans to tackle consumer privacy. The agency issued a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking to govern the use of consumer data by broadband providers, both wired and wireless. The FCC's goal is to help protect the data generated by millions of people who use internet services every day. The FCC wants broadband providers to obtain permission from customers before sharing their data with others, including advertisers. The rules would apply to companies such as AT&T, Comcast, DirecTV, Sprint, T-Mobile, and Verizon — including each company's wireless units. The FCC also believes consumers should be able to opt-out when they wish. "[This] proposal would give all consumers the tools we need to make informed decisions about how our ISPs use and share our data," said FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler, "and confidence that ISPs are keeping their customers' data secure." Internet providers argue the rules would reduce their ability to sell advertisements to consumers. The FCC will continue to shape the policy over the next few months and present it in more final form before fully adopting it.
Walmart today said customers can save big bucks on Apple's iPhone and Samsung's Galaxy phones for the next three months. Walmart has cut the price of all iPhones by $100 (including the new iPhone SE) and all Galaxy phones (including the Galaxy S7) by $150. The rollback begins today and lasts through the end of June. The reduced prices will be available only in Walmart stores, and only to customers of AT&T, Sprint, and Verizon Wireless. T-Mobile is not participating in the rollback program.
FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler today said the agency doesn't intend to investigate Netflix's throttling practices for customers of AT&T and Verizon Wireless. Wheeler said web sites and other edge providers fall outside its purview and didn't violate any regulations. Netflix admitted to throttling the speed of video streamed by AT&T and Verizon customers due to those carriers' data overage policies. Netflix doesn't throttle the speeds of video streamed by Sprint and T-Mobile customers.
Verizon Wireless today confirmed to Phonescoop that it plans to charge customers $20 to upgrade to new devices beginning April 4. The fee will apply to customers who buy handsets with installment plans, or buy phones at full price. Verizon will assess the fee at third-party retailers, too, such as purchases made at the Apple Store or Best Buy. "The upgrade fee helps cover our increased support costs associated with customers switching devices," explained a Verizon spokesperson to Phonescoop via email. "Customers can pay the charge when they upgrade, bill it to their account, or trade in an old device to offset the cost. The fee for upgrading on device payment is still half of the two-year contract upgrade fee." Verizon charges contract customers $40 when upgrading devices. AT&T instituted its own device upgrade fee of $15 last year. Sprint recently lowered its upgrade fee from $36 to $30. T-Mobile charges $20 for a SIM card starter pack, which is widely seen as an upgrade fee. Verizon's new $20 upgrade fee was first uncovered by MacRumors.
Sprint customers can add an Amazon Prime membership to their monthly Sprint bill starting today. The subscription costs $10.99 per month and includes all the benefits available to Amazon Prime members, including reduced shipping charges, Prime Video, Prime Music, Prime Photos, and more. Customers can add Prime using Sprint's web site, telesales, or visit Sprint retail stores. Sprint says it will send an activation link to customers to complete the registration process. With a Prime account, Sprint subscribers will be able to download and use Amazon's collection of Prime apps at no additional charge. Consumers may be better off paying for Amazon Prime on their own. The subscription plan is attractive at $10.99 per month, but at $132 for 12 months the subscription is significantly more than the standard yearly fee to join Prime directly via Amazon, which is $99.
LG said its G5 smartphone will be available for sale in Korea starting March 31, with the U.S. to follow April 1. The G5 will reach other regions, including Europe, Asia, and the Middle East, over time. LG says more than 200 carriers plan to sell the phone. In the U.S., that includes AT&T, Sprint, T-Mobile, and Verizon Wireless, all of which will offer the phone on April 1. Along with the G5 itself, LG plans to sell the accompanying modules and accessories, called LG Friends. The two most notable Friends as the CAM Plus and Hi-Fi Plus, which are modules that plug directly into the bottom of the G5. The CAM Plus will be available in the U.S., but LG hasn't said if the Hi-Fi Plus will also be available. Other Friends include the 360 VR headset, 360 CAM, Rolling Bot, Tone Platinum, and H3 by B&O. Pricing for the LG G5 varies by carrier. The phone has a 5.3-inch quad HD display, Snapdragon 820 processor, 16-megapixel camera, and USB Type-C.
Sprint today said it will allow customers to test its network and service for 30 days with a satisfaction guarantee. Customers who aren't satisfied with their service can seek a full refund of all device and service fees up to 30 days after the point of inception. The satisfaction guarantee is available to new customers, some small business customers, and existing customers who add a line of service. Sprint said the 30-day satisfaction guarantee will be offered for a limited time. Most carriers already offer a 14-day trial period so customers can evaluate service and device performance before being fully committed. Sprint is still offering a number of other promotions, including half off competitor rate plans, ETF reimbursement, and low-cost device leases.
Netflix today said that it has limited its video speeds on most carriers worldwide for years, including AT&T and Verizon Wireless in the U.S. The issue came to light when T-Mobile accused AT&T and Verizon of throttling Netflix. Mobile video practices have been under a microscope since the December launch of T-Mobile's Binge On program, which zero-rates the video content from some providers. Netflix admitted that it is throttling its own service on purpose to about 600Kbps to "protect consumers from exceeding mobile data caps." Netflix says it has throttled video speeds for as long as five years, but leaves video streamed by Sprint and T-Mobile customers alone due to those carriers' less onerous policies. Netflix, which claims to be a proponent of net neutrality, says it is exploring new ways to stream video in such a way that it consumes less data. AT&T and Verizon were not pleased with the revelation. "We're outraged to learn that Netflix is apparently throttling video for their AT&T customers without their knowledge or consent," said AT&T.
Sprint said it will begin accepting preorders for the LG G5 on March 24. The device will reach stores April 1. Sprint is offering the phone via installment plan, with a contract, or at full price. Monthly payments for the phone will be $24 for 24 months; the retail price is $576. Customers willing to sign a two-year agreement can snag the G5 for $150 after a $50 mail-in rebate. Sprint says it will offer a minimum of $150 towards the G5 for phone trade-ins. Early adopters will be rewarded with a battery bundle, which includes a spare battery, charger, and USB-C to micro USB adapter. Sprint will sell the 360 CAM for $199.99 and the CAM Plus module for $69.99. Sprint said the phone is available with several of its ongoing promotions, such as half off service rates plans for those who switch from AT&T, T-Mobile, or Verizon Wireless. Sprint will also pay ETFs and other switching fees up to $650.
Sprint today followed AT&T, T-Mobile, and Verizon Wireless by rolling out a buy-one, get-one offer for the Samsung Galaxy S7. Customers can lease or purchase the Galaxy S7 at full retail price and receive a second for free. Sprint's Galaxy Forever lease program costs $25.99 per month for 24 months and allows users to upgrade to a new phone after 12 payments. Sprint will credit the cost of the handset payment each month for the second/free S7. Customers who choose installment pricing for the S7 will pay $27.09 per month for 24 months to own the handset, with the second S7 available at $0 per month after a service credit. In either case, one of the handsets must be activated on a new line of service. Sprint says customers can mix and match between leasing and installment plans if so desired. Sprint is still offering new customers 50% off competitor rate plans, and will cover up to $650 in switching fees. Both new and existing customers who've already purchased the S7 are eligible for the BOGO offer. Sprint also rolled out a half-price lease deal for the 16 GB iPhone 6s, which costs $13.17 per month with a trade-in.
Nextbit has canceled plans to bring a version of its Robin smartphone to Sprint and Verizon Wireless. The company cited the slow carrier approval process and ballooning expenses as reasons behind its decision. "What people at the carriers, in good faith given our need for quick answers, thought would take 'weeks' has turned into 'months'," explained Nextbit CEO Tom Moss. "What they thought would cost 'hundreds of thousands of dollars' has turned into 'millions'. And we're still not there." The company is refunding those who pre-ordered the CDMA version of the Robin, and is also offering those customers 25% off the GSM version of the Robin should they want it. The Robin runs Android and proactively offloads apps and files to the cloud in order to conserve storage. It is sold unlocked and works with AT&T and T-Mobile.
Sprint today said it was able to achieve peak LTE speeds reaching 300Mbps on the downlink with the Samsung Galaxy S7. The phone, says Sprint, is among the first to support three-channel carrier aggregation, a feature in LTE-Advanced. In its lab, Sprint put together three 20 MHz channels in the 2.5 GHz band to push peak speeds in the S7 to 300Mbps. Sprint says the same setup can deliver 200Mbps in real-world situations. The carrier has already deployed two-channel carrier aggregation in its 2.5 GHz spectrum, delivering peak speeds of 100Mbps in more than 150 markets around the U.S. Sprint says it holds 160 MHz of 2.5 GHz spectrum in a large number of top U.S. markets, which should allow it to offer three-channel carrier aggregation as part of its LTE Plus Network upgrade. Sprint is working to trim costs across the board. It recently cut its headcount and is hoping to reduce the costs associated with leasing tower space. Sprint didn't say how it will deploy its LTE Plus upgrade while also saving costs.
Sprint has dropped its activation fee from $36 to $30. The fee is charged no matter how customers choose to purchase their handset, be it via subsidy, lease, or installment plan. Sprint will charge a maximum of $60 when customers activate two or more devices on the same day. Sprint has also changed when the activation fee is applied to the account. Rather than bill customers later, Sprint will charge the $30 fee right away when people activate new phones at Sprint-owned and -licensed dealers. Sprint did not say why it made the changes. T-Mobile recently increased the cost of its SIM starter kit from $15 to $20. The SIM kit is widely referred to as an activation fee for T-Mobile customers.
The FCC is prepared to propose new rules governing the use of consumer data by broadband providers, both wired and wireless. The proposal is meant to help protect the data generated by millions of people who use internet services every day. The FCC wants broadband providers to obtain permission from customers before sharing their data with others, including advertisers. "Consumers should have effective control over how their personal information is used and shared," said an FCC official. The rules would apply to companies such as AT&T, Comcast, DirecTV, Sprint, T-Mobile, and Verizon — including each company's wireless units. Firms such as Alphabet (neé, Google) and Facebook would be exempt, which instead fall under the purview of the FTC. The FCC is expected to propose the rules later this month, when they'll be provisionally approved. Internet providers argue the rules would reduce their ability to sell advertisements to consumers. The FCC's next meeting is tentatively scheduled for March 31.
LG today said U.S. consumers can expect to see the G5 smartphone reach stores in early April. The modular smartphone will be available via AT&T, Best Buy, B&H, Sprint, T-Mobile, U.S. Cellular, and Verizon Wireless. LG said carriers will be responsible for announcing their own release dates and pricing. The G5 has a removable bottom hatch that allows users to access the battery as well as add modules called LG Friends. The first two modules are a camera grip and stereo DAC. The phone also boasts dual rear cameras and a Snapdragon 820 processor. It runs Android 6.0 Marshmallow.
Google today nixed the invite system it used for Project Fi and opened the MVNO service up to everyone. Project Fi relies on WiFi and cellular access from Sprint and T-Mobile to provide coverage around the U.S. Its software is able to dynamically jump from network to network in order to provide the best-possible speeds and service. Project Fi is novel in that it only charges people for the actual amount of data used each month, rather than for large buckets. Google says the first 10 months of the project have gone well and it is ready to move into the next phase. For the next month, anyone who activates Project Fi will be able to purchase the Nexus 5X handset from LG for $199.99. The phone's normal price is $349.99. Project Fi is only available to Nexus smartphones, including the Nexus 5X, Nexus 6, and Nexus 6P. Basic service costs $20 per month, plus $10 per 1 GB of cellular data. Google refunds users for the unused portion of data each month.
Boost Mobile and Virgin Mobile today both confirmed plans to offer the Samsung Galaxy S7 to their prepaid customers. Boost will kick off sales of the flagship handset on March 11, with Virgin to follow March 18. Both companies are asking for the full retail price, which is $649.99 for the 32 GB model. They are selling only the black variant. Boost has a promotion for families right now that offers 10 GB per line, while Virgin offers free music streaming via LTE. Boost and Virgin, which operate on Sprint's network, do not require contracts and offer low-cost service plans.
SoftBank today revealed a plan to separate itself into two separate companies, one for its Japan-based carrier business and another for its international operations, including Sprint. SoftBank's domestic business unit, which includes investments in Yahoo Japan, will be run by Ken Miyauchi. SoftBank's international unit, which includes Sprint and Alibaba, will be run by former Google exec Nikesh Arora. SoftBank will maintain full ownership of both businesses. The move is meant to separate the finances of the different businesses and prevent too much cash from SoftBank's Japanese operations being used to shore up its international investments. It may also help give SoftBank more legal and financial options for its international unit down the road. Sprint is $32 billion in debt, has lost marketshare to T-Mobile, has laid off thousands of employees, and faces a challenging network upgrade program. SoftBank purchased a majority ownership of Sprint in 2013.
Boost Mobile today announced its own promotion aimed at converting customers from competing carriers to Boost. Boost says AT&T, T-Mobile, and Verizon Wireless customers who port their numbers to a Boost Mobile family plan can see monthly savings up to 50%. Boost is offering 10 GB of high-speed data per line starting at $60 for two lines, $85 for three lines, and $110 for four lines. Further, Boost says it will provide a free phone (or $50 discount) for every line ported to Boost Mobile from AT&T, T-Mobile, or Verizon. Customers can get up to four free phones when activated with a new family plan. Boost Mobile said this offers will be available for a limited time, but didn't set a specific end date. Boost Mobile's parent company, Sprint, has offered a similar promotion for several months.
Bob Johnson, Sprint's Chief Experience Officer, will leave the company by the end of April. Johnson was in an early batch of new hires made by CEO Marcelo Claure shortly after he took over the struggling carrier in 2014. The Chief Experience Officer position was a new role created for Johnson. Johnson's tenure with the company will total 14 months. Johnson's position is being taken by Rockert Hackl, who will also be President of National Sales. Hacks starts April 1. Sprint is working hard to trim some $2.5 billion in expenses this year. It already let go of 2,500 employees and also plans to reduce lease expenses at its cell sites. The company is facing some $30 billion debt.
Sprint today announced a joint venture between it and Dixons Carphone to open 500 Sprint stores around the U.S. The joint venture follows a pilot program the two companies launched last year that saw them test Dixons' best practices in some 20 Sprint stores. Sprint says the pilot was successful and led to improvements in financial performance and customer satisfaction. The expanded partnership will see Dixons Carphone build and operate up to 500 new stores, but the two companies agreed to fund the joint venture equally so each maintains 50% ownership of the joint venture. Sprint has pushed hard to increase its retail presence around the country. Last year, it expanded its footprint to some 4,500 locations, including within more then 1,400 RadioShack stores. Sprint believes the new stores will help it reach more consumers.
Sprint has reversed its position on contracts and starting today began offering them again as an option to customers purchasing new equipment. Sprint customers can pay full price for phones, lease them, break payments up over time, or sign a two-year contract to purchase phones at subsidized prices. The company nixed the contract offering only a month ago. "We listened to our customers and are giving them more choices to get their new device," said a Sprint spokesperson to FierceWireless. "Sprint is the only carrier to offer the most choices to obtain a new device — lease, installment bill, two-year contract or pay full retail price." AT&T, T-Mobile, and Verizon Wireless have largely given up the idea of using contract pricing to lure in customers. There is, however, a big catch for customers who choose to sign a contract with Sprint. The cost of the service plan and device payments will be approximately $150 more than if the device is financed (without a contract) or purchased outright. For example, the 16 GB iPhone 6s costs $649. If paid for in full and then added to a 3GB monthly plan, the total of payments over two years at $50 per month comes to $1,849 before taxes and fees. If customers purchase the same phone with a two-year contract, they'll have to pay $199.99 up front followed by $75/mo for 24 months for the same 3 GB plan. The total in payments through the contract route totals $1,999 before taxes and fees. The total dollar amount by which contract purchasing exceeds paying in full or financing varies by handset and contract terms — but is generally at least $110 more expensive over two years.
Google, the GSMA, and a collection of wireless network operators around the world today said they'll work together to bring Rich Communication Services to Android devices around the globe. Google will create an Android RCS client that all the participating carriers will adopt. The GSMA said the universal RCS client will let mobile operators offer a consistent messaging experience to devices no matter where they are. Operators can use Google's Jibe platform to handle the client, or provide their own. Some of the features of RCS include group chat, high-resolution photo sharing, advanced calling features, and read receipts. These enriched tools will become default characteristics of messaging services offered by Sprint in the U.S., as well as América Móvil, Bharti Airtel, Deutsche Telekom, Etisalat, Globe Telecom, KPN, Millicom, MTN, Orange, PLAY, Smart Communications, Telenor Group, TeliaSonera, Telstra, TIM, Turkcell, VimpelCom, and Vodafone. Notably absent from the list of participants are AT&T, T-Mobile, and Verizon Wireless. The GSMA also says the interoperable messaging service will aid operators when it comes to testing, and the messaging profile will eventually be made available to other platforms. The GSMA did not provide a timeline for deploying RCS.
Samsung today said consumers in select countries, including the U.S., who preorder the Galaxy S7 or S7 Edge will receive a free Gear VR headset. Samsung didn't say how long the promotion will be available. Many U.S. carriers have also announced pricing for the pair of phones. The Galaxy S7 costs approximately $670 to $700, depending on carrier, while the larger S7 Edge has a much higher price point between $780 and $800, depending on carrier. Monthly payments for the phones range from about $30 to more than $40, depending on the terms. So far, AT&T, Cricket Wireless, Sprint, T-Mobile, U.S. Cellular, and Verizon Wireless have all said they'll sell the new handsets from Samsung. The device goes on sale March 11, but preorders start February 23.
Karma, an MVNO that operates on Sprint's network, has canned its unlimited service plan called Neverstop. The company said the plan was simply not feasible. "We tried to make Neverstop work by regulating the number of devices you could connect, limiting speeds to 5Mbps, and most recently, capping usage at 15GB per month," said Karma in a blog post. "None of these changes made Neverstop sustainable at $50 a month, and most importantly, they all degraded the experience for customers. The time isn't right for this service. We like to dream big, but this time we went too big." Karma launched the never stop service for its Go LTE mobile hotspot three months ago. Customers quickly abused the unlimited plan, forcing Karma to use throttling and other techniques to discourage overuse. The measures weren't enough. Karma is replacing Neverstop with a series of plans called Pulse that range from $40 per month for 5 GB to $140 per month for 20 GB. Karma subscribers can upgrade or downgrade their plans at any time, and can add extra data for $15 per 1GB.
Sprint today announced a revamped line of plans for multiple lines called Better Choice Plans. The plans mimic Verizon's in that they range from Extra Small to Extra Extra Large and are shared across devices. The Extra Small plan includes 1 GB of data for $20, the Small plan jumps to 3 GB for $30, followed by the Medium with 6 GB for $45, Large with 12 GB for $60, Extra Large with 24 GB for $80 and Extra Extra Large with 40 GB for $100. These prices don't include line access fees or handset lease payments. Sprint is also still offering its unlimited plan to four lines for $150, and will pay up to $650 to those who switch from a competing carrier. The Sprint Better Choice Plans will be available starting February 19.
AT&T today said it will pay customers of competing networks up to $650 per line to switch to AT&T. The latest tactic hopes to woo Sprint, T-Mobile, and Verizon Wireless customers by offering to cover their fees. In order to be eligible for the credit, people need to purchase a new device through AT&T's Next installment plan, activate a new line of post-paid service, and port their number from Sprint, T-Mobile, or Verizon. The program also requires people to trade-in their old phone. The trade-in will garner in-store credit towards the new device or an AT&T Promotion Card. Once customers receive the final statement from their previous carrier, they can submit the bill to AT&T, which will send an AT&T Promotion Card or Visa pre-paid card to cover the unpaid balance. The total amount of credit awarded between the trade-in and ETF is $650. AT&T says the deal can be combined with it current buy-one, get-one offer, as well as the AT&T Unlimited plan available to DirecTV and AT&T U-verse TV subscribers.
Google will not participate in next month's spectrum auction, says the company. The deadline to file applications for the auction passed on February 10. "Like all those interested in improved connectivity and equitable access, we'll be following the upcoming spectrum auction closely. That said, we have not filed to participate," explained a spokesperson in a statement provided to Reuters. Carriers AT&T, T-Mobile, and Verizon Wireless have all indicated an interest in the auction, although Sprint will not participate. The reverse auction will see television broadcasters sell their 600 MHz airwaves to wireless network operators. Google did participate in the 700 MHz auction several years ago.
Sprint and Alcatel today made the Ride-Fi available for purchase. This mobile hotspot, first announced last month, was made specifically for cars and plugs into vehicles' DC power port for in-car connectivity. It can get power from USB-2 ports, as well. The Ride-Fi supports up to eight devices through Sprint's LTE 4G network. The device costs $168, but can be purchased via installment plan for $7 per month, or with a contract at no charge.
Sprint today announced a new promotion that will give a family of four unlimited talk, text, and data for $150 per month. A single line for the unlimited plan costs $75 per month. Two lines cost $120 per month, three lines cost $150, four lines cost $150 (fourth is free), and lines five through 10 cost $30 each. In addition to the calling, messaging, and LTE 4G access, the unlimited plan includes 3 GB of mobile hotspot and Sprint Global Roaming with unlimited 2G data and text messaging in select countries. Sprint's new unlimited pricing will be available beginning February 12 for a limited time. Sprint also extended its 50% rate plan promotion for AT&T, T-Mobile, and Verizon Wireless customers through March 31.
Sprint today is kicking off a limited promotion that will reward new and existing customers with $200 in credit towards a new device when they trade in a working smartphone. The credit can be applied to the Samsung Galaxy S6 or Galaxy Note 5. Sprint says the $200 credit drops the monthly lease cost of the GS6 to $9.76 per month and the Note 5 to $16.67 per month. The $200 trade-in credit is available to shoppers at Sprint's retail stores starting today, and will be available online and via phone by the end of the week. Sprint says the device being traded in cannot be a lease, and existing customers must be upgrade-eligible to score the $200 trade-in credit. The offer can be combined with Sprint's current half-off rate plans to customers who switch from AT&T, T-Mobile, or Verizon Wireless.
Sprint is today discontinuing its PayLo and Broadband2Go sub-brands, which were operated through Virgin Mobile. The move comes mere days after Sprint said it was "de-emphasizing" the Virgin brand. PayLo chiefly offered talk/text plans to feature devices and Broadband2Go mainly sold data-only devices and services. Virgin said the PayLo brand attracted people seeking "burner phones" and it wants to move away from that association. The company is also adjusting the service plans available from Virgin Mobile. Starting today, Virgin will offer three plans. The entry-level plan costs $30 and includes unlimited talk/text and 500 MB of data. Stepping up to the $40 plan boosts data to 4 GB, while the $50 plan includes 6 GB. Sprint doesn't charge overages, but does throttle people who exceed their data limits. "We've kind of transitioned to focusing on those monthly unlimited plans, which are the more engaged, higher-ARPU subscribers," said Angela Rittgers, VP of Sprint's prepaid services, to Fierce Wireless. "I think what we'll find is that the net amount of money we get from customers will be the same, but these are just more attractive price points to subscribers." Sprint said it remains committed to its prepaid brands and customers. Sprint's other prepaid brand, Boost Mobile, recently revised its pricing, too.
A Massachusetts court has given Sprint permission to turn off its WiMax network in stages over the next two months. Sprint will turn WiMax off in 16 cities, including New York, today, with 39 more to follow on February 29, and the remaining 25 cities on March 31. Sprint has been forced to keep the WiMax network running in order to give two non-profits more time to transition away from WiMax. Mobile Citizens and Mobile Beacon, which provide internet service to schools, sued Sprint last year over its planned WiMax shutdown. Sprint has been trying to get the groups to switch from WiMax to LTE, but the groups alleged Sprint is offering unreasonable terms. The groups convinced a court to enforce an injunction, which is being lifted in steps starting today. Sprint wants to refarm the 2.5 GHz WiMax spectrum for LTE.
Sprint says it has a new strategy in mind for its prepaid brand Virgin Mobile. During a call with analysts today, Sprint execs said the company is de-emphasizing Virgin at the moment in favor of Boost Mobile, and has gone so far as to pull Virgin advertising ahead of a the new strategy's debut. Sprint did not say what it plans to do with Virgin, though it did admit it is not pursuing the pre-paid space as aggressively as rivals Cricket and MetroPCS. "You've got to figure out where do you want to fight and where do you want to grow," said CEO Marcelo Claure. "We are keeping the customers that matter." Claure also took the opportunity to reassure investors and customers that its network improvement plan will not be disruptive. "This is not a rip-and-replace strategy," said Claure, calling the implementation a "progressive build" that will make changes for the better. The company is expected to relocate some cell towers and make greater use of small/macro cells to densify its network. It may also shift some backhaul operations to microwave in order to cut down the fiber carriage fees it pays to AT&T and Verizon. Claure still believes Sprint can become the No. 1 or No. 2 network in terms of absolute performance in 80% of the country's markets within two years.