Sprint Muses Unlimited, Flat Rate Pricing Plan

The days of hoarding over your cellphone minutes like Ebenezer Scrooge over pieces of coal could be over if Sprint follows through with a plan to offer a flat-rate, unlimited voice call plan. It’s but one “nuke” in the new CEO’s brain arsenal of tricks designed to disrupt the industry and regain market share for the beleaguered cellphone service. “If we can’t be different, we can’t win,” says CEO Dan Hesse.

The current cellphone minute system is an abomination. Just per minute pricing would be okay, but you’re supposed to “know” how much you’re going to call in a month, and then get harshly penalized for going over. Flat-rate, unlimited pricing would be great, and it’s just crazy enough that it could pull in subscribers and force the other providers to follow suit.

Sprint CEO aims for winning strategy [USA Today via Broadband Reports]

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  1. allstarecho says:

    Hell, we’ve had unlimited in and out calling with Cellular South – the nation’s largest privately owned carrier – for 3 years. Nothing new here. New for the “big boys” maybe. $60 a month gets you unlimited calling, 24/7, local and long distance and includes 700 roaming minutes, with Cellular South and for $5 more you get unlimited txt messaging. $65. I bet Sprint’s won’t be under $100.

  2. azntg says:

    Not while Sprint’s running the show!

    It’s quite funny that right after this article, there’s no less than TWO complaints about Sprint on the same front page of the Consumerist website!

  3. snazz says:

    ive always wondered why a cell phone company hasnt offered this yet… would it tie up too many cell phone ‘lines’ and you wouldnt be able to get through? (like the whole problem AOL had when they went to unlimited service).

  4. m4ximusprim3 says:

    Another advantage of this would be the ability to simplify their computer system, which seems to be a major problem for them.

    I’m sure they’re looking to untangle the massive clusterfuck that is their customer service system.

  5. darkened says:

    I’ve had this with Cellular One previously owned by Dobson Communications which was bought out by ATT. $50/month gets me unlimited calling to any where in the country as long as I’m in my home area which is my entire state.

    Unlimited text messaging is $20/month. That’s so so but atleast it’s unlimited, the only real gotcha is they charge data per kilobyte and count MMS messages as data so a 40BK picture costs like $2, needless to say I have data blocked.

  6. morganlh85 says:

    But we all know that “unlimited” minutes would go the same way as “unlimited” internet is going on cell phones!

  7. ohgoodness says:

    They are certainly not the first to do this (there was some random provider in South Florida, and Cricket in central Texas), but I suppose the fact that it’s one of the big guys could force all other providers to follow suit could turn out pretty well.

  8. Kenneth says:

    WOW! WHAT A CONCEPT!! But can they do it with data for under $90 ?? Hmm, I say NO.

  9. opsomath says:

    I use my Net10 phone all the time. Ten cents a minute flat, no contracts, the company doesn’t even know who I am on account of how I bought the handset in a dollar store with cash. I get orders of magnitude better service than I have seen with anyone else. My average spending is maybe $20/month.

    I don’t understand how ordinary cell phone companies keep their customers. I guess people just have to have their “free” Razr phones. TANSTAAFL.

  10. The Great Aussie Evil says:

    Slowdown imminent.

  11. youbastid says:

    @snazz: It has been offered before. AT&T did it for $99 a month somewhere in the early 2000s. Didn’t last long.

  12. matto says:

    It is amazing how many untold millions I am saving by simply not yacking on the phone.

  13. meballard says:

    Nextel has offered in the past as well at various times (anywhere from $100-150), Amp’d offered it for $100 a month (although Amp’d ended up shutting down), and I’ve heard that Sprint offers it for the right price if you ask.

    Other companies offer on a local basis (the above were all national offers, ie from anywhere in the US they offer service), like Cricket and Metro PCS, and I believe Sprint/Nextel offers that type of plan in at least some areas (I believe it is a Sprint offer under the Boost brand).

    What would be interesting is if they broke below the $100 mark for a national plan, especially if it included text messaging and/or other features.

  14. Chris H says:

    Beware, because of the way the anti-telemarketing laws are written, an unlimited-plan wireless phone may fall through the ban against cell phone telemarketing. This would mean that telemarketers could call your cell phone, if you were not on the do-not-call list.

  15. bobpence says:

    Yeah, I wondered when Amp’d shut down what all the service people around the nearby city would do, since they lived on their phones: Parking lot attendents, security guards, taxi drivers, food clerks, all of them had to be going 8 hours per day.

  16. UpsetPanda says:

    I think unlimited minutes is really a niche market. I don’t go over 300 minutes a month, so why should I switch to unlimited, even if it is the same price? Meanwhile, I’d really just like to find the best carrier that works in all the areas I travel to that has a good price. We’re paying close to $100 a month for two lines and 700 minutes. Ridiculous. If they’d stop the $9.99 charge for the second line, it’d be better.

  17. BlondeGrlz says:

    I had unlimited calling with SunCom, before they were bought by Cingular, before they were bought by AT&T. It was only $60/month, but didn’t include text or data. It was the only reason I could afford a cell phone as acollege student. Cingular refused to let me keep the plan after my previous contract ran out, but they did give me a shiny new phone.

  18. meballard says:

    How would telemarketers know that you have an unlimited use plan?

    There is one good reason for the unlimited use plans, they make it so you don’t have to worry about how many minutes you have, whether you use 10 or 10,000, it is the same price (and at least for me, helps put my mind at ease about my level of use, especially on heavy months).

  19. Jetfire says:

    Helio offers unlimited minutes, messaging, 3G web, and GPS.

    $100 a month down from $145.

  20. kc2idf says:

    I just want a phone that doesn’t suck.

  21. cindel says:

    Yeah it’s called a SERO plan. Why don’t Sprint just offer that instead to all subscribers?

  22. fastm3driver says:

    Seriously these guy’s have no idea how to run a business. Why don’t they just keep the same plans and do two things.
    One: cap the maximum the bill can be , say $140(more than the proposed unlimited)
    Two: make the plans start at $20-$30 a month, for like 400 minutes then when you go over you are moved into the next $20 more expensive plan.
    This way people will go over a few minutes and just pay $20 more. Everyone is happy, they gouge us a little less then now and we have the security of knowing we wont get a $2000 cell bill. It also still deters the users from using a million minutes.

  23. Squeezer99 says:

    sprint SERO > what anyoen else offers

  24. ex-IRS says:

    Pocket and Cricket in Texas have unlimited minutes for a maximum price of $50 or so.

  25. ceriphim says:

    I already had this plan from Sprint, actually. January before last I signed up for it, and it was awesome. Until the next month when I moved out of Spokane and found out my $50-a-month Unlimited Plan in Spokane (It’s apparently a test market for Sprint and others) was $149.99 EVERYWHERE else. Something their salesman conveniently forgot to mention at any time, even when asked specifically what would happen if I moved.

    My phone was shut off 4 times in three weeks for my account balance being exceeded and 4 times I explained to the CSRs that my plan was unlimited and 4 times they told me they fixed it. It finally ended when some lady from India TERMINATED my account and told me they needed another $150 activation fee. Sprint has and always will be absolute shit for customer service. Never again.

  26. jstonemo says:

    Cricket is running an ad right now on TV in Missouri/Kansas that offers unlimited phone, text and pic for $30 a month. I guarantee that Sprint won’t be that cheap.

  27. SayAhh says:

    Yeah, Amnesty Wireless, Cricket, MetroPCS and others already offer no-contract, flat-rate pricing, some with unlimited internet access at a higher monthly rate. You usually have to pay for the phones, and for the most part they aren’t the cream of the crop phones (i.e., don’t except to see iPhones on their website).

    Don’t know if Boost Unlimited is still alive…

    Also, some of them are mobile virtual network operators (MVNOs) and lease Sprint network bandwidths, like Disney used to do.

  28. shufflemoomin says:

    I can easily see companies offering unlimited call plans but sticking some fair usage clause in the contract which wouldn’t surprise me if it was the same usage as the average person uses now which would make you pay more per month for similar restrictions. Remember people, if it seems to good to be true…

  29. SpenceMan01 says:

    @Squeezer99: Amen to that. SERO is $30/month for just about everything you could want in a cell phone plan: 500 anytime minutes, unlimited nights and weekends (starting at 7pm), unlimited text messages, unlimited EVDO data, and unlimited roaming. There are plans with more anytime minutes as well: $50 for 1250 min. and $1000 for 2500 min.

    It’s really hard to justify spending twice as much to go with another carrier, even despite Sprint’s spotty customer service (in the rare event that I need to call for something).