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Sprint boasts mobile hotspot add-ons but kills 5GB plan

Although the mobile carrier is launching hotspot add-ons, its users now have to pay more for their data plans as the 5GB for $30 per month plan becomes defunct.

In a thinly veiled attempt to get users excited about new mobile hotspot add-ons for smartphones and tablets, Sprint announced that it is swapping its 5GB for $29.99 per month data plan for two more costly options.

As of May 18, Sprint launched two hotspot add-ons, the first costs $19.99 per month for 2GB of combined 3G/4G on-network data and the second is $49.99 per month for 6GB of combined data. The 5GB $29.99 is now defunct, but users who have this plan can keep it until they cancel their service.

"Sprint's new pricing will now allow customers to try the mobile hotspot add-on at a lower entry point while continuing to be competitive in the industry," Sprint wrote in a blog post last week.

This does not mean Sprint is killing its unlimited data plan (for now), but it is looking to make more money off its users. Last September, the carrier reassured users that it would continue to provide unlimited data plans despite its main competitors, Verizon and AT&T, slashing their unlimited plans.

"Data on many of Sprint's phone plans continues to be unlimited, while on the Sprint network," Sprint wrote in last week's blog post. "On-network data generated on the phone remains unlimited on Sprint's Everything plans that include data when MHS functionality is disabled."

While using the hotspot add-ons, users will get overage charges of 5 cents per MB if they exceed the monthly data allowance of the plan they are on. Sprint cautions users to be sure to turn off their hotspot add-on when not connected to other devices or else they many incur added costs. The company said customers with the hotspot add-ons can enroll to get usage notifications to let them know if they near their monthly limit.

It remains unclear, however, exactly how Sprint will determine when the mobile hotspot is turned on or off. "While MHS is turned on the phone or tablet, both MHS and phone data usage pull from the MHS monthly data allowance," Sprint wrote. Tech news site GigaOM pointed out that this could mean what users would normally think was being counted toward their unlimited data plan could actually be accrued in their hotspot usage plan.