If Sprint thinks it can lure customers back by offering an unlimited everything plan for one flat rate, well... it may be on to something. This weekend, I became a Sprint customer again.
Last week, the company announced a new unlimited plan that includes, well, basically everything unlimited - SMS, MMS, 3G data (yup!) and, in a way, even voice. The plan, at $70 for an individual plan or $130 for a two-line family plan, includes unlimited mobile-to-mobile calling to any network - yup, AT&T, Verizon, T-Mobile and others. Landline calls and international calls are the only ones that eat from the monthly allowance of voice minutes.
A quick history: The Verizon contracts for my wife and teen daughter's phones are up and they've both been hinting that they'd like to do more with their phones - as in mobile web, as in a data plan and a smartphone. I've resisted because, under Verizon, the monthly bill takes a pretty steep hike but now we had some options.
My daughter spotted the Sprint flyer in, of all places, the weekly newspaper ads this weekend and started waving it around for me to see. Getting the hint, I first called Verizon to get a run down of my options on plans, promotions and so on. Verizon has good plans - but the deal-breaker is the monthly add-on for data. For a smartphone, it's $30 extra per line; for mobile web access on a web-capable phone, it's $20.
The Sprint option was interesting because it included unlimited everything. Te individual plan comes with 700 minutes but the family plan has 1,500 - more than enough, seeing how the pool only gets tapped from landline or international calls. We did some plan comparisons. And many of them were pretty competitive when you added unlimited data to existing voice plans - but that mobile-to-mobile across network lines just kept giving Sprint the edge.
In the end, both wife and daughter ended up getting colorful Blackberrys that came with big rebates. Here was the one drawback about the Sprint experience. Neither wife nor daughter were big Blackberry fans. They just didn't care for the rest of the offerings - not even the new Palm Pre and Palm Pixi.
As for me, I get two monthly bills now, instead of one. But, I also get to drop to a lower-priced plan for the Verizon account because two of the heaviest users of the family are leaving. I crunched some numbers and found that, when all is said and done, I'll be saving money every month.
Icing on the cake.
Truth be told, the contract for my own account is also expiring and I'm free to move on if I'd like. But, I'm liking the Blackberry Tour I've been using (though I have big issues with its battery) and am still hoping that Verizon gets the iPhone and/or an Android device sometime early next year. I'll hang out for a while and see what develops.
In the meantime, I'm looking forward to watching first-hand how teenagers use smartphones, instead of just reading reports about it.