Sprint will reportedly enter prepaid business itself

Not content to let its units Boost Mobile and Virgin Mobile nab all of the prepaid customers, Sprint is taking action itself. Unfortunately, its standard smartphones aren't part of the deal.

The LG Optimus Elite, already available on Virgin, will now be available for Sprint. Josh Miller/CNET

Sprint Nextel is about to dip its own toes into the prepaid world, according to Android Police.

Sprint will launch its own prepaid service on January 25, initially offering two smartphones and two basic phones, the site said, citing promotional material it obtained. The smartphone plan costs $70 a month for unlimited talk, text, and data, although there are roaming restrictions for data use on its 3G EVDO network. The basic phone plan costs $50 a month.

The move would mark an expansion of Sprint's already significant push into the prepaid business. The company has largely relied on its two units, Boost Mobile and Virgin Mobile, to tap into the still-growing base of prepaid customers. Many of its wholesale customers, including Republic Wireless, also offer service on a no-contract basis.

With prepaid representing a source of growth for the industry, many of the carriers are taking the segment more seriously than in the past. T-Mobile's pending merger with MetroPCS, for instance, is likely to create a rival that's more focused on prepaid than ever.

Initially, Sprint will offer two smartphones, the LG Optimus Elite and Samsung Victory, which are $149 and $249, respectively. Android Police notes that the Samsung Victory lacks the 4G LTE branding that it had under Sprint's contract service. Sprint's other higher-end phones, such as the Galaxy S3 and Evo 4G LTE, aren't available for this plan.

Like the core contract option, these plans appear to have access to unlimited data, although there are more roaming restrictions. The Virgin and Boost services offer more attractive rates, but will limit speeds once a user hits a certain threshold.

Sprint declined to comment on the report.

 

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