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Sprint Allows LTE Service Over Mobile Virtual Network 45

Posted by Soulskill
from the inviting-competition dept.
Hugh Pickens writes "In the past, carriers like Sprint have placed restrictions on their Mobile Virtual Network Operators (MVNO) to prevent them from competing directly against the carriers. The MVNOs were forced to sell budget service and budget technology. But Businessweek reports that the Galaxy S III has began shipping to customers of MVNO Ting, officially making Ting the first carrier to offer an LTE service without owning an LTE network. 'All the market trends we're talking about today are allowing us to be competitive at the high end,' says Elliot Noss, CEO of Ting, adding that Sprint has stripped off the last remaining obstacles to MVNOs competing with it on equal terms. Virtual carriers are experimenting with new pricing models, such as Ting's metered voice and data plans, that run counter to the way big operators have always sold their services. So far, only a minority of customers finds these new types of models appealing, but it's a growing minority, says Noss. MVNOs all but died out in the last decade, victim to their own over-segmentation of the market and the only survivors were the ones who kept their focus on the budget prepaid segment like TracFone. But nine months ago, AT&T and T-Mobile started selling data and voice airtime by the bucket, which gives MVNOs much more flexibility in pricing. Even more significantly, carriers started working directly with MVNOs to craft unique plans in exchange for a percentage of the plans' revenues. In the meantime, prepaid operators such as Leap Wireless are already selling the iPhone, and it's only a matter of time before the economics are right for Sprint to lift its iPhone restriction as well. 'I'll put it this way: I would be disappointed if we didn't have the iPhone by next summer,' says Noss. 'That kind of holdback of iconic devices is beginning to make less and less [business] sense.'"
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Sprint Allows LTE Service Over Mobile Virtual Network

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  • Meanwhile... (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday September 05, 2012 @06:23AM (#41232867)

    Europe continues to laugh at the ridiculous, broken US cellphone market. Europe also continues to laugh at our broadband land-line market, our free and premium TV markets, and pretty much anything related to telecommunications.

    • by mspohr (589790)

      I agree that Europe has some things right (no "free " phones) but they fail completely when roaming with absurdly high charges when you travel across borders from one tiny county to another.

      • Really? The EU has legislated multiple rate reductions for roaming texting and calling rates [and I think also data, but they are at least working on data] over the last 5 years.

        Meanwhile, in the US, it's free Enterprise all the way. The best you can do is:
        a) pay extra every month to get slightly lower roaming rates
        b) tell your provider to cut you off or at least text you when you hit a particular amount of roaming fee's

        Actually, it's worse, because in the US, your phone is carrier-locked by default, so y

        • by mspohr (589790)

          Yes, it is true that the roaming situation in Europe has gotten so bad that the EU has had to intervene. However, their "success" at lowering rates has only reduced roaming charges from "outrageous" to "atrocious".
          Roaming rates in Europe are now 29 cents a minute for calls and 70 cents a megabyte for data. These are still absurdly high rates. In comparison, all (I haven't seen a plan charge for roaming for years) of the call and data plans in the US have free roaming across the entire country.
          Just to giv

    • by afidel (530433)

      Really? The US has three LTE providers, how many does the UK have, how many does Germany have? Can you roam between them (especially on LTE) without being raped in the pocket book? My wife has nationwide coverage with 300 voice minutes, 2.5GB of 3G data, unlimited texts all for only $25/month. That's competitive with any offer available anywhere in the world and with a much larger coverage area.

      • by tlhIngan (30335)

        by afidel (530433) Alter Relationship on Wednesday September 05, @08:21AM (#41235127)

        Really? The US has three LTE providers, how many does the UK have, how many does Germany have? Can you roam between them (especially on LTE) without being raped in the pocket book? My wife has nationwide coverage with 300 voice minutes, 2.5GB of 3G data, unlimited texts all for only $25/month. That's competitive with any offer available anywhere in the world and with a much larger coverage area.

        Actual network operators in E

        • by afidel (530433)

          Uh, there are at least a dozen MVNO's in the US, some of them are now owned by the big carriers as wholly owned subsidiaries but they exist and offer competitive packages (my wife's plan is through Virgin Mobile, an MVNO which Sprint bought a few years ago)

        • by CastrTroy (595695)
          I'm with Wind Mobile and I love it. $29 for unlimited local calling, txting, and data (5 GB before they throttle me). So what if I have to pay roaming what I'm outside the city. It's a small price to pay for getting exceptionally cheap service inside the city. For a similar package with any of the big cell phone carriers, I'd be paying at least double that.
  • Staying Relevant (Score:5, Insightful)

    by rsmith-mac (639075) on Wednesday September 05, 2012 @06:51AM (#41232973)

    Unfortunately this isn't all that surprising. With the market failure of WiMAX in the US, Sprint has been put in a very bad position overall. At this point it's everything the company can do just to stay relevant, particularly when the big two (VZ and AT&T) are ahead of you in both coverage and LTE deployment and "little" T-Mobile has a lock on the cities by offering good prices combined with fast speeds (3G DC-HSPA+).

    Meanwhile Sprint's network is still almost entirely composed of a last generation CDMA network, unless you're fortunate enough to be in Atlanta where their first LTE deployment is. Even then the performance sucks [anandtech.com] thanks to the fact that they are deploying their LTE network on such a high frequency.

    Because of these reasons, expect to see Sprint do more "crazy" things like MVNO LTE. They're not going to win in a price war, a speed war, or a coverage war; they're going to have to keep throwing things at the wall until they find something that reverses their fortunes, if such a thing can be found in time.

    • Staying in line. (Score:4, Insightful)

      by Ostracus (1354233) on Wednesday September 05, 2012 @06:59AM (#41232993) Journal

      Staying relevant isn't just a Sprint thing. It also applies to all the others with people fleeing contracts. The clue is in the article were the major names want a piece of the action. It's like the cable carriers giving Netflix and Hulu better terms if they get a cut.

    • by wytcld (179112)

      I've been a Ting customer since a month after they started. We have two smartphones, both with 3G, one with WiMAX. Here in northern New England 3G is all any carrier has. Sprint's network lags Verizon's slightly - and while Ting has free voice roaming there's no data roaming at all. But Sprint's 3G isn't overtaxed. Works well for us, especially with the free tethering for our laptops. If we want to stream huge media files we use our wired connection at home. Meanwhile our combined bill averages less than $3

      • by dublin (31215)

        I suspect Ting may not actually be the first to do this - MetroPCS has been advertising their new LTE offering for a couple of months now, and I know they are an MVNO on Sprint's network. I can't see anyone paying to run premature ads for that long.

        (I'd be more familiar with this, but I'm only aware because of local DFW commercials on many of the Rangers ballgames broadcast here in Austin. Ron Washington has been pitching MetroPCS' LTE for a while now - I'm pretty sure since before the all-star break...)

  • by Kotoku (1531373) on Wednesday September 05, 2012 @06:57AM (#41232987) Journal
    I see it in stores all the time, Virgin Mobile (runs off the Sprint network) sells the iPhone currently, latest model as well.

    http://www.virginmobileusa.com/iphone [virginmobileusa.com]

    For taking the time to highlight one specific phone, seems funny to miss such a highly marketed appearance of the device.
    • Virgin Mobile wholly owned by Sprint. Sprint completed purchase of VM over two years ago.
      • by Kotoku (1531373)
        Not really sure if that changes the definition of it being an MVNO, since it is run rather separately along with Boost and others by the Sprint Prepaid Group. Kind of like YUM foods operates a bunch of restaurant franchises, but they still have a great deal of independence. Sprint doesn't even have device interoperability between their primary service and Boost / VM, so having a Virgin Mobile variant of the CDMA phone at least requires different software and on a budget plan such as Virgin Mobile where you
    • by DCstewieG (824956)

      Sprint owns Virgin Mobile (in the U.S. at least) so it's a special case.

  • by sohmc (595388) on Wednesday September 05, 2012 @07:37AM (#41233125) Journal

    So far, only a minority of customers finds these new types of models appealing, but it's a growing minority

    As far as I know, Sprint is the only carrier that does this. If every carrier was forced to allow this type of competition, I'm sure it would become the majority.

    I hate having to carry a contract with AT&T for two years. Phones are only discounted because you sign the contract. It would seem logical, then, that your monthly fee would decrease afterword but this is simply not the case.

    • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday September 05, 2012 @07:43AM (#41233153)

      Stop feeding the beast. You accepting a 2 year contract is feeding the beast. Stop it.

    • by AvitarX (172628)

      Tmo gives a discount (well now they advert it as low price, and payment plan on phone, but it works the same).

    • by alen (225700)

      duh, every carrier does have this

      AT&T allows Straight Talk to lease their network. $45 a month unlimited everything.

      verizon wireless has Leap which is mentioned in the article. they go under Cricket

      its just that being on a 4 line family account on AT&T its the same price for me as going pre-paid once you figure the cost of a nice phone so there is no reason to switch. if i was single, it might be different

      • StraightTalk has LTE? Because that's news to most people.

      • by bratloaf (1287954)

        This... for me anyway. 5 lines on VZ is actually less than prepay. BUT we dont have data. So, when contract is up in December we will definitely look at straight talk or another MVNO. Our son already bought himself a used iPhone and switched to straight talk. He loves it.

        • by alen (225700)

          straight talk's unlimited data is not unlimited. they said they have a 2.5GB fair use policy. sometimes they close your account right away. sometimes they throttle you. sometimes a warning first.

          this is why i don't see much value in it. but then i'm on wifi almost everywhere

          • by afidel (530433)

            Not sure about Straight Talk (they seem to have terrible customer service from what I read online), but Virgin Mobile says up front that you get 2.5GB of EVDO speed and then are throttled to 1xRTT speed. This is vastly preferred by most MVNO customers to being raped for overages.

    • by Eil (82413)

      As far as I know, Sprint is the only carrier that does this. If every carrier was forced to allow this type of competition, I'm sure it would become the majority.

      The other carriers do this, Sprint is just the one with the most MNVOs. Not sure about Verizon, but at least AT&T and T-Mobile also carry MNVOs with unlimited plans (text, talk, and data) for $40-$45. Straight Talk even lets you buy a SIM card for any T-Mobile or AT&T phone for $45/month unlimited everything. (But their customer service is

  • I (as of 30 minutes ago) ordered a Samsung SIII from CREDO, after eyeballing it on their site for a while. And for my unlimited 4G LTE service, I'll be paying $30/month less than AT&T
    • It does seem pretty expensive though? Basic voice plan is $40, and unlimited 4G LTE data is $30. Did you consider a prepaid service like Ting?
       
      And to answer your comment, Sprint simultaneously allowed all of it's MVNOs to use LTE phones. Ting unlike CREDO, allowed customers to preorder the phones, and is technically gets to call itself the first to offer LTE phones (and service).

      • by Isara (869637)
        ah, thanks for the clarification! I was confused. CREDO is coming out to $57/month, with unlimited 4G LTE data plan, and minimal minutes (400 minutes - not on the website) and text messages (300). Plus, I like that they're a progressive company, so aligns with my values.
        • I chose Ting for the same reason too actually (I did monitor my data usage though, before I switched (I switched from an unlimited one)). They officially allow BYOD (you can bring any sprint device). They also used to host a hacker forum to help people swap ESN, before BYOD was not allowed. Their customer service is like Amazon's, they bend backwards to help you, and they are really knowledgeable.

  • Ting rocks. If they were on T-Mobile instead of Sprint I probably would have switched by now. Pay for what you use, no extra charge for tethering, shared data and minutes without the ridiculous costs that the big boy charge for sharedness.

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