Sprint on Thursday announced a new calling plan featuring unrestricted wireless calling to any mobile phone on any U.S. wireless carrier.
Sprint describes its Any Mobile, Anytime plan as a new feature to the carrier’s Everything Data plan. The Any Mobile, Anytime plan’s price starts at US$69.99 per month.
The Any Mobile, Anytime Plan
This will give Sprint customers unlimited mobile-to-mobile calling to any wireless phone on any U.S. carrier’s network at any time, along with unlimited data and texts.
Sprint customers will be able to communicate with people who use land lines. However, “calls to and from land lines will continue to be deducted from the anytime minutes included in the customer’s plan,” Sprint spokesperson Emmy Anderson told the E-Commerce Times.
The Any Mobile, Anytime plan is being offered as an extension of Sprint’s Everything Data plans. Subscribers to the Everything Data plans will be automatically migrated to the Any Mobile, Anytime plan at the beginning of their next billing cycle.
Nextel users are also covered by the Any Mobile, Anytime plan, Anderson said.
Cutting Users’ Costs
Together with announcing the Any Mobile, Anytime plan, Sprint has also slashed the cost of its Everything Data plans, which cover data communications — e-mail, text, chat, etc.
For example, individual Everything Data plans used to begin at $99.99. They now cost $69.99 for 450 anytime minutes or $89.99 for 900 anytime minutes, Sprint’s Anderson said. Everything Data Family plans now cost $129.999 for 1,500 minutes or $169.999 for 3,000 minutes.
The Any Mobile, Anytime plan features will be rolled into Everything Data plans, and calls made to other wireless subscribers will be deducted from the user’s Everything Data minutes.
Beyond Calling Circles
The Any Mobile, Anytime plan could give Sprint a leg up in the battle for subscribers. Other vendors have plans, such as Alltel’s Calling Circle or T-Mobile’s MyFaves, wherein a user gets unlimited calls, but only to a specific list of phone numbers.
AT&T on Wednesday made moves in the calling circle arena by introducing its A-List With Rollover plan. This will give subscribers to individual plans unlimited calling to and from five mobile numbers in the United States free. Family plan subscribers get to call up to 10 numbers.
“We are very pleased with ‘A-List’ and our other offers,” AT&T spokesperson Mark Siegel said. “We believe we have the most compelling set of offers in the industry.”
AT&T is not concerned about Sprint’s Any, Mobile Anytime plan, Siegel told the E-Commerce Times.
Fighting to Improve
Sprint’s latest plan is another step in CEO Dan Hesse’s bid to put the carrier back on a solid footing, JBB Research Principal and CEO Julien Blin told the E-Commerce Times. “Sprint’s been struggling, and Dan has implemented several plans to change things since he came on board,” Blin said.
Hesse was appointed CEO of Sprint in 2007.
Sprint has been trying hard to reduce the number of subscribers leaving for other carriers — what the industry calls “subscriber churn.” In its Q2 earnings report in July, Sprint said it lost about 257,000 customers over the quarter, which follows several quarters of similar losses. Its total subscriber base at the end of Q2, 2009, was 48.8 million.
In March, Wachovia Capital Markets analyst Jennifer downgraded Sprint from “outperform” to “market perform” because she feared Sprint’s churn rate would rise.
Still, Q2 saw customer churn fall from the Q1 figure of 2.25 percent to 2.05 percent.
Counting the Shekels
In its bid to retain customers, Sprint has improved customer care and quality and added the Palm Pre to its list of offerings. “Sprint’s trying hard, and you have to give them a lot of credit,” Blin said.
Slashing prices for Everything Data plans is another attempt at customer retention. However, Blin fears the move might backfire.
“This could be a risky move because it could mean less money for them,” he said. “But if they get enough people to sign up and offset the revenue losses, I’m sure they’ll be fine.”