Sprint adds unlimited cloud storage to its arsenal

Carrier announces it will offer the Pogoplug unlimited cloud storage service to its wireless customers for $5 a month.

Marguerite Reardon Former senior reporter
Marguerite Reardon started as a CNET News reporter in 2004, covering cellphone services, broadband, citywide Wi-Fi, the Net neutrality debate and the consolidation of the phone companies.
Marguerite Reardon
3 min read
Lynn La/CNET

Sprint has added another unlimited service for its wireless subscribers.

The company announced Monday that it now offers unlimited cloud storage from Pogoplug as part of its suite of unlimited services.

Sprint customers will be able to access up to 5GB of Pogoplug's cloud storage for free. And for $4.99 per month they can upgrade to an unlimited option. The extra charge can be billed directly through Sprint.

To get started, Sprint customers can download the Pogoplug app to their device from the Sprint Zone, Apple App Store, or Android's Google Play store. Once the app is installed, they can start storing photos, video, music, and other bits of digital content in the cloud, conserving valuable storage on their devices. Pogoplug also provides automatic backup of digital content, and customers can manage the settings to determine if the backups should run over Sprint's data network or only when the device is in a Wi-Fi hotspot.

While the Pogoplug offer may be a nice addition for some Sprint customers, the service is hardly unique to Sprint. The Pogoplug app is generally available for any iPhone and Android device. And customers on other wireless networks can access the app through the App Store or Google Play. The free version and the paid version of the app on other carriers works in the same exact way as it does on Sprint's network. The pricing is also the same.

That said, Sprint says the partnership with Pogoplug has made it easier for Sprint customers to discover the Pogoplug app. It also makes it easier for Sprint customers opting for the paid, unlimited version of the app, since the monthly fee is directly integrated into the Sprint bill.

Mike McRoberts, director of product development at Sprint, said the offer further "fulfills Sprint's brand promise of unlimited."

"We now have unlimited storage to go along with our other unlimited offerings," he said.

Sprint is one of the few wireless carriers today that still offers truly unlimited wireless data. Unlike T-Mobile, which slows data speeds when customers reach a certain threshold instead of charging an overage fee, Sprint gives its data customers free rein to consume data. Sprint's "All-in" plan costs $110 and includes unlimited calling, text messaging, and data and up to 5GB of data for devices connected to your phone via the mobile hotspot function.

Sprint, which is the third largest national wireless operator, has been struggling over the past year to keep up with its competitors. The company has been involved in a major network upgrade project that has caused network issues and resulted in thousands of customers canceling service. CEO Dan Hesse recently acknowledged the company has had a rough time, but he said he is optimistic that 2014 will be a better year as the company completes its network upgrade and adds more coverage of its 4G LTE network.

Meanwhile Sprint's competition has edged ahead with T-Mobile, the smallest of the nationwide carriers, making a crucial turnaround in 2013 with its Uncarrier strategy. T-Mobile's marketing blitz and flashy new promotions helped it gain 4.4 million customers in 2013.

Sprint has tried to respond to T-Mobile's offers. Last year the company, introduced an early upgrade plan to match T-Mobile's offer. It recently killed that plan and launched a new friends and family plan it calls the Framily plan, which allows customers to save money the more people they add to their plan. Sprint then reintroduced a different early upgrade program.

All of this is to say that Sprint is trying as hard as it can to differentiate itself from its competitors while not udercutting its pricing or service. The new unlimited data offer is another small element of this strategy to try to make its service stand out from its competitors.