Sprint, the company widely regarded for unlimited data plans, has unveiled a new set of data plans for 4G LTE tablets that seem to lack the unlimited nature of their smartphone plans. While there are likely several reasons behind this, and the new offerings do give Sprint something of a leg up on the competition, the biggest selling point in Sprint's arsenal is still notably absent.
Sprint, currently the third largest mobile service provider in the United States, is offering up four new plans for its 4G LTE tablet sales. Users can pick from their choice of monthly schedules, starting with 300 megabytes of data for $14.99, three gigabytes for $34.99, six gigabytes for $49.99, and a full 12 gigabytes for $79.99. Contracts will not be required, and there's even word that, for a limited time, activation fees for 3G and 4G tablets alike will be waived.
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What's more, those who already have smartphones with Sprint will be in line for some special deals of their own, as they'll be able to add a tablet to their current account, complete with a full gigabyte of data, for $15 extra a month, or 100 megabytes for $10. Sprint isn't offering family plans, like those of their larger competitors, but instead is looking to offer a pool of options geared toward different levels of use.
There's no denying that consumers are hungry for data. With more and more services being offered around streaming audio and streaming video, users need the necessary data plans to get access to those services and use them to their fullest. Then there are the sheer array of other services, especially those better suited to mobile like maps, and the whole thing adds up to plenty of demand. But with infrastructure remaining expensive, and measures to provide bandwidth at lower costs still coming into their fullest potential, it leaves users in something of a lurch, as evidenced here by the interest in data plans and the lack of an unlimited version for tablets.
Of course, there's the issue of the development overall engaged in a 4G LTE network. That's still coming in a lot of places, so holding back on the unlimited offerings until the network is at its prime may be for the best. Additionally, Japanese mobile operator Softbank Corp recently brought in plans to buy a 70 percent stake in Sprint Nextel, so they may well have had something to say about Sprint's freer hand with the network access.
Still, it's something of a blow to see Sprint not in there with the unlimited plans. They may still come around, of course--and these are just for the 4G LTE tablets--but it's a discouraging point all the same.
Edited by Brooke Neuman