After years of moving away from unlimited data plans, the wireless industry has done an about-face. iPhone owners now have several unlimited options from major carriers including AT&T Mobility, Verizon Wireless, T-Mobile and Sprint. Data plans with no hard limit have proliferated over the past year, as carriers fight tooth and nail for data-hungry smartphone subscribers. Here are some highlights of the latest and greatest unlimited data plans for iPhone.
Wireless carrier Sprint Corporation launched the new Best Buy One Plan nationwide on March 1. The program is described as an "industry-first, all inclusive plan" that offers unlimited voice calling, messaging, data, and a "whole new way to get a wireless phone". Not surprisingly, Sprint's Best Buy One is exclusively available at Best Buy retail outlets.
Customers can get the unlimited data plan along with top smartphones for no money down and no sales tax at the time of purchase. The program works by leasing the hardware for a fixed monthly price, which is rolled into the total plan cost. This means with a two-year contract Sprint subscribers can lease the 16GB iPhone 6 along with unlimited data, voice calling and messaging for a total of $65 per month plus taxes and fees.
Sprint has rolled out a new Family Share Pack and unlimited $60 individual plan after killing off their "Framily" campaign because it was too complicated for customers to understand, but T-Mobile said it is not enough in another hilarious press release. The UnCarrier is urging its customers to rescue their friends from Sprint by offering unlimited data on its LTE network for one-year.
T-Mobile says "Sprint’s customers have suffered much," and that their friends should throw them a lifeline so they no longer have to endure the carrier's dysfunctional Framily and "bad deals".
“It continues to amaze me to see the old carriers failing to listen to their customers−or reward them for their loyalty,” said John Legere, president and CEO of T-Mobile. “That arrogance and indifference has defined the U.S. wireless industry for too long. We’re changing all that. In fact, this entire Un-carrier consumer movement is built on the simple act of listening to customers.”
Another merger is getting closer to reality with news of the latest negotiations between Sprint and T-Mobile making headlines at Bloomberg. Sprint looks to acquire T-Mobile in a $32 billion deal that would create the third largest wireless carrier in the US.
The two carriers would boast 99 million subscribers combined, falling in behind AT&T's 108 million and Verizon's 120 million customers. SoftBank, which owns 80 percent of Sprint, is looking to create a more formidable competitor in the market. The news comes as other consolidation deals are being scrutinized in the industry, including AT&T's planned buyout of DirecTV.
Starting on February 11, 2015 Sprint will "provide any applicable MSL Code" to any customer who requests that their smartphone or tablet be unlocked so it can be used with another carrier. The change in Sprint's unlocking policy was spotted today by Android Police, and comes after the Federal Communications Commission pressured all five major U.S. carriers to give customers the choice to unlock their devices and switch mobile providers as they see fit.
Sprint notes on the company's unlocking FAQ page that "not all devices are capable of being unlocked," and that some devices will not retain all their functionality. For example, all iPhone models and other "devices manufactured with a SIM slot within the past three years cannot be unlocked to accept a different domestic carrier's SIM for use on another domestic carrier's network," according to Sprint. Your device and all its functionality will also need to be supported by the carrier you wish to switch to for it to work on that carrier's network.