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Sprint revises its unlimited plan amid new Verizon offering

USA TODAY logo USA TODAY 2/16/2017 Eli Blumenthal
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When it comes to wireless, the one-upmanship never seems to stop. Today's player: Sprint.  

Last week, the nation's No. 4 carrier introduced a new unlimited plan offering five lines with unlimited data for $90. That offer is already old news. On Thursday, Sprint announced a fresh deal to draw in new customers, upping its previous offer to include high-definition video streaming and 10GB of mobile hotspot data.

The deal, which is available starting Friday, also includes a free iPhone 7 for the next 18 months with a trade-in of certain older phones. After one year, customers will be able to trade in the phone for a new model, or they can wait the full term and then either return the device or pay off the remainder owed on the phone.

Sprint will automatically upgrade customers who recently signed up for last week's $90 offer to this latest deal, giving them HD video and mobile hotspot though they won't be getting the free iPhone 7. 

The $90 pricing requires you sign up for Sprint's automatic payment system (or AutoPay) and is only temporary, going from now until March 31, 2018. After that date, the price will jump to $60 for one line, $100 for two lines, $160 for four lines and $190 for five lines, though given how competitive things have gotten just in the past week, it’s likely there will be newer plans when that date comes.

Sprint acknowledges as much. "We don't know in one year how the market is going to be positioned," said Roger Solé, Sprint's chief marketing officer. 

You must be a new Sprint customer to qualify. The company recommends existing subscribers visit their local store to find the best options for them. 

The upgraded plan brings Sprint in line with rival offers from Verizon and T-Mobile. 

On Sunday Verizon announced it would be bringing back unlimited data, charging $80 for one line or $180 for four lines, including HD video streaming and 10GB of mobile hotspot data for tethering. To counter, T-Mobile on Monday upgraded its T-Mobile One plan to also include HD video streaming and 10GB of mobile hotspot for $70 for one line, $100 for two lines or $160 for four lines. 

Prior to this week, Sprint and T-Mobile’s basic unlimited plans offered unlimited data, but did not include 10GB of hotspot data. Moreover, customers on their respective cellular networks could only stream video in lower quality standard definition, rather than HD, at least without paying higher monthly fees.

Is this a reaction to Verizon? 

"The adjustment to HD is definitely something that we did to make sure that no one has a doubt that we are the best value proposition," Solé said. He concedes that some of today's changes were in response to Verizon, though he also believes that Verizon's new plan was equally in response to Sprint's recent round of aggressive offers. 

"We don't want someone to say 'Ah, OK, Sprint is the best value proposition but it's not HD,'" Solé said. "So let's remove that obstacle from the conversation." 


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