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Sprint Redefines "Everything"; Raises Smartphone Data Fees

Sprint has announced that subscribers activating smartphones on its network on or after January 30, 2011 will need to subscribe to a $10 Premium Data add-on feature.  Previously, this add-on was only required for 4G phones. For those considering Sprint, particularly those interested in a 3G smartphone, we suggest signing up before January 30.  Otherwise, you’ll be on the hook for an extra $240 over your two year contract.  Compare Sprint rate plans and cell phones here.

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Price increases have been pretty rare in recent years, so it will be interesting to see how this plays out.   For consumers, the impact is that the minimum monthly charge to have a Smartphone on Sprint will be $79.99, reflecting the lowest price Everything Data plan ($69.99) plus the $10 add-on.   $79.99 is well above the minimum cost for carrying a smartphone on the other carriers (see our new smartphone data calculator to find your best data plan) so it is likely the pricing will be very unattractive to light consumers of data who can carry a smartphone for $54.99 a month or less on the other major carriers.    For heavier users, the pricing is actually competitive, as Sprint’s plan includes unlimited text messaging.

What strikes us as a little peculiar is that Sprint is making this a required add-on to their “Everything Data” plans instead of just increasing the price of those plans.   Although the impact is the same, we’re thinking perhaps they have a different dictionary definition of “Everything” than we do: As of 1/30, you won’t be able to buy an “Everything Data” that actually includes data if you want to have a smartphone.   Looking forward to seeing how their marketing department spins this one.