With rate increase, Sprint bows to 4G consumption reality

While Sprint isn't willing to give away its unlimited data plans, the carrier must also make concessions to reality.

BACKGROUND: Sprint CEO doesn’t see metered 4G service

With the announcement today that its unlimited WiMAX mobile data plans would cost users an extra $10 per month, Sprint is acknowledging that it can't continue to offer its users all-you-can-eat data without charging more to maintain network quality. In its press release issued this morning, Sprint emphasized its rate increase would ensure that Sprint would be able to maintain "a wireless network able to meet the growing appetite for a richer global experience." The company also noted that the availability of higher speeds on its WiMAX network was "driving exponential growth of mobile data traffic."

Sprint is the only carrier to offer unlimited data plans on its 4G wireless network, as both Verizon and AT&T are committed to offering tiered pricing systems for their LTE networks. One reason that Sprint can afford to offer unlimited data plans is the strong combined spectrum portfolio that it and its partners at Clearwire share for their WiMAX network. Indeed, Sprint has said that it has enough spectrum on its books to deploy both WiMAX and LTE simultaneously if it wanted to.

Several research firms and companies have projected an explosion in wireless broadband consumption over the next few years, fueled mainly by 4G mobile data technologies such as WiMAX and LTE that will allow for the streaming of high-definition video over the air. IT research firm Ovum, for instance, has projected that the number of mobile users subscribing to either 3G or 4G services will grow to 2 billion worldwide by 2014. Goldman Sachs' investment research arm, meanwhile, projected last month that wireless data revenues would surge by more than six-fold by the year 2020 and that wireless data revenues would nearly triple over the next two years alone.

The Federal Communications Commission also released a technical paper last year claiming that growth in mobile data services will require around 822MHz of total spectrum, or 275MHz more than the 547MHz of spectrum available today for dual use in voice and data services. The United States will have all of the wireless spectrum it needs to meet mobile data demand until 2013, the FCC projected, as mobile data demand is not expected to cross the 547MHz threshold until then.

During a talk at the EmTech conference in Cambridge last year, Sprint CEO Dan Hesse reiterated his company's commitment to offering users unlimited data plans and said the company could keep its plans unlimited by charging more if it eventually found that customers were consuming more data than the carrier could handle. Hesse said there were rare circumstances where service would not be unlimited but that those circumstances were limited to less than one per cent of users who consumed unusually large amounts of data on a monthly basis. In those cases, Hesse said the company would work out a deal with those users to pay more per month for 4G service or would tell the user they would be cut off after they consumed a certain amount of data.

Read more about anti-malware in Network World's Anti-malware section.

Join the Good Gear Guide newsletter!

Error: Please check your email address.

Tags WiMaxsprinttelecommunication3gat&tNetworking3G & 4GwirelessClearwire

Our Back to Business guide highlights the best products for you to boost your productivity at home, on the road, at the office, or in the classroom.

Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

Brad Reed

Network World
Show Comments

Most Popular Reviews

Latest News Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

Azadeh Williams

HP OfficeJet Pro 8730

A smarter way to print for busy small business owners, combining speedy printing with scanning and copying, making it easier to produce high quality documents and images at a touch of a button.

Andrew Grant

HP OfficeJet Pro 8730

I've had a multifunction printer in the office going on 10 years now. It was a neat bit of kit back in the day -- print, copy, scan, fax -- when printing over WiFi felt a bit like magic. It’s seen better days though and an upgrade’s well overdue. This HP OfficeJet Pro 8730 looks like it ticks all the same boxes: print, copy, scan, and fax. (Really? Does anyone fax anything any more? I guess it's good to know the facility’s there, just in case.) Printing over WiFi is more-or- less standard these days.

Ed Dawson

HP OfficeJet Pro 8730

As a freelance writer who is always on the go, I like my technology to be both efficient and effective so I can do my job well. The HP OfficeJet Pro 8730 Inkjet Printer ticks all the boxes in terms of form factor, performance and user interface.

Michael Hargreaves

Windows 10 for Business / Dell XPS 13

I’d happily recommend this touchscreen laptop and Windows 10 as a great way to get serious work done at a desk or on the road.

Aysha Strobbe

Windows 10 / HP Spectre x360

Ultimately, I think the Windows 10 environment is excellent for me as it caters for so many different uses. The inclusion of the Xbox app is also great for when you need some downtime too!

Mark Escubio

Windows 10 / Lenovo Yoga 910

For me, the Xbox Play Anywhere is a great new feature as it allows you to play your current Xbox games with higher resolutions and better graphics without forking out extra cash for another copy. Although available titles are still scarce, but I’m sure it will grow in time.

Featured Content

Latest Jobs

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?