The wireless wars over family plans continue, with Sprint once again taking it up a notch.
Sprint on Wednesday introduced a low-end family data plan that includes 1GB of data for $20 a month, undercutting the top carriers AT&T and Verizon Wireless. For $20, Verizon offers 500MB of data, while AT&T offers 300MB. Previously, Sprint's option only included 600MB. The new plan is available starting today.
As with all shared family plans, customers have to choose the amount of data they want, as well as pay an access fee that covers every device on the plan and unlimited calling and text messages. A nonsubsidized smartphone would cost $25 a month to be roped into the plan.
The move is part of Sprint's "double-the-data" campaign and the latest step in its plan to draw attention to its services through lower prices and an offer of more data than the competition. The company, which has been bleeding customers for the past several quarters, has been hampered by a network that's not yet up to par with those of its rivals. New CEO Marcelo Claure has been charged with turning things around.
Late last month, AT&T triggered a new round of fighting by offering toplans. Within a few days, Sprint responded by , essentially quadrupling the original offer.
But now Sprint is turning its eye to low-end family plans. While 1GB of data shared among up to 10 lines seems paltry to the typical user, it may make for a better deal for customers who don't constantly use their smartphones and use it only for basic calls, e-mails and Internet browsing.
It's unlikely that AT&T and Verizon will pursue this segment of customers, as they are keen on adding heavier data users willing to pay a premium for their service. T-Mobile doesn't offer a shared plan, offering individuals their own bucket of data even within a family plan.