AT&T is the first carrier to end its unlimited data plan offerings by charging users for mobile broadband data using a tiered pricing structure, but the rest of the industry is still on the fence. For now, Sprint is saying that it is observing the industry and isn’t ruling out the possibility, though the carrier is saying that it is going with the simplicity of unlimited data at this time. According to Sprint CEO Dan Hesse, “We’re not ruling out metered pricing. Tiered pricing is something we look at.”
Speaking at an investor conference, Hesse is noting that his company is closely watching what rivals are doing in that space, “We are watching very closely. But customers really do value simplicity.” For now, Sprint’s campaign for simplicity and the value proposition that its plans offer seem to be working. The company has announced that it is warding off subscriber losses in its post-paid plans and a compelling lineup of smartphones are also to be credited for Sprint’s recent performance. However, while value and simple plans may help to retain and attract new subscribers, Sprint also faces the challenge of maintaining a network robust enough to handle the data needs of modern smartphones, which are heavily focused on downloading and consuming multimedia content, something that a tiered model may address. Sprint’s advertisements for its “Now Network” campaign also recognizes how its network may be used when the Internet is so readily available; the TV ad spots had depicted different usage scenarios by different people at any moment in time.
Sprint’s CDMA network rival Verizon Wireless is also on the fence about tiered data plans. Although the carrier has publicly stated that it will switch over to the tiered model at a later point, its recent pricing decisions to mimic Sprint’s cheap unlimited offerings show that the carrier is still ambivalent.