Sprint: bye, price advantage, hello $10 fee for everyone

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Well, not everyone, just everyone who wants to buy an Android or Windows 7 or Blackberry phone. Which is a lot of people anyways.
I already wrote about anti-points on their $10 for 4G service last May. Now this $10 “because we can” fee is spreading to everyone on a new contract. But that’d be too good for current users.

You will also be charged this new fee if you do ESN-swap, or just change the phone without changing or renewing your contract. How cool is that? A wave of a magic wand, and you owe them $10 more. And supposedly it doesn’t break a contract. Cause you see, it’s a “fee”, not a price change.

Sprint’s previous price advantage is now practically gone not just for 4G customers, but for regular clients too, with their basic 450 minute plan now costing $80 + tax. Which is within $10 of Verizon’s plan or $5 less than AT&T’s iPhone 4 plan (450 anytime minutes + rollover $39.99 + 2Gb data $25 + unlimited SMS $20, and ATT doesn’t charge extra for incoming international SMS). And just when Verizon is about to unleash an iPhone to more than willing public.

Or, for exactly the same amount you can get 1500 anytime minutes with unlimited text and data from T-Mobile. Throw in a free G2, with available WiFi calling and faster data speeds.

The most annoying aspect is that instead of just raising the price outright and writing about it openly, Sprint decides to push it into a “fee” and babble incoherently about some vague reasons on why all of a sudden every Android or Blackberry turned into a premium experience without them lifting a finger or increasing the network speed.

I suppose one of more subtle reasons to push for price increase was desire to force users to choose and use 4G network. Now you’ll pay the same extra fee if you have fancy 4G phone or not-so-fancy Blackberry, so you may as well select a chance of catching 4G (even though it’s not available everywhere, and where it is available coverage seems to be quite spotty and inconsistent). Given how much money they dumped into Clearwire, may as well try to force users to use it. Of course it’s slower than Verizon’s LTE or not-yet-deployed upgraded ATT network too.

Not cool, Sprint.

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