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Sprint ends unlimited plans for mobile dongles and hotspots, smartphones beware


Sprint has trumpeted and advertised its unlimited data plan (Unfiltered: Sprint goes on `unlimited` offensive). But alas, all good things must come to an end, and Sprint is starting with its mobile broadband dongle and mobile hotspot add-on services. Starting in November, usage will measured against a cap — 5GB in the case of mobile hotspot users and either 3GB, 5GB or 10GB for mobile broadband subscribers.

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Sprint announced on its Web site Oct. 20:

If you have a mobile broadband device such as a tablet, netbook, notebook, USB card, connection card or Mobile Hotspot device, effective beginning with your next bill following notification, your on-network monthly data allowance will no longer include unlimited 4G.

There are no changes to your monthly recurring charges, on-network overage rates, off-network overage rate, or off-network data allowance.

Sprint`s biggest bragging rights have been in regard to its new iPhones, as it`s currently the only major carrier to pair the Apple handsets with unbridled access to high-speed bytes and gigs. But that, too, will eventually change.

Sprint partner Clearwire is no longer expanding its WiMAX network, which means Sprint can`t have customers — and thanks to the iPhone 4S, which has set new sales records for the carrier, it`s going to have even more of them — gorging themselves on unlimited data, as its capacity fills up written (CP: A tale of two Sprints: Can Sprint really go it alone?) .

And while Sprint is building out an LTE network, and can`t possibly do so quicker than Verizon or AT&T, who already can`t sustainably offer their iPhone users unlimited terms.

In the second part of a two-part Connected Planet series on Sprint`s strategy shifts, by our wireless senior editor Kevin Fitchard, Kevin explained:

Sprint’s new LTE network would suffer in terms of speed and capacity compared to those of AT&T and Verizon Wireless, as Sprint tries to balance its limited spectrum between its 3G and 4G networks and between its iPhone and new 4G smartphone customers. If Sprint were to sacrifice its sacred unlimited plans and made liberal use of carrier Wi-Fi technologies, the operator might have the capacity to make it through 2014 as it is projecting.

As predicted, the modem plans are first to go, since they consume so much more data than smartphones. But smartphones will certainly be next to feel the closing of the throttle.


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