“When the market goes to unlimited, it’s not necessarily a race to the bottom,” Sprint CFO Tarek Robbiati said at an investors’ conference, “it’s more a race toward building capacity.”
That’s the view from one of the four big unlimited data players in the US wireless industry. Robbiati also said that prices currently being offered for service packages with full HD video streaming and 10GB of LTE-speed hotspot are “probably not” sustainable in order to build out networks.
“The one thing unavoidable is the expense incurred in deploying [capital expenditures], which is behind the need for capacity. Over time, unlimited will have to involve price increases,” Robbiati also said.
Sprint has been promoting a $50 monthly rate to port-over customers for its Unlimited Freedom plans while T-Mobile has adjusted its ONE plans to offer more at the main $70 price point in light of features introduced by Verizon’s $80 unlimited plan. Sprint and T-Mobile have also promoed multiple line discounts. AT&T has a speed-limited unlimited data tier at $60 per month.
All of that doesn’t help line the pockets at the respective companies to build out 5G networks that are currently in the incubation stage. Postpaid ARPUs are looking to meet with prepaid average revenue per user figures — where once bills topped at $200 an account, they’ve since dropped anywhere from $20 to $50.