Sprint is planning to offer a new device upgrade program, timed to the Sept. 20 launch of the newest Apple iPhones.
According to Cnet, Sprint plans to follow the lead of the nation's other Tier 1 carriers with the launch of One Up, a program that will allow customers to pay for devices in monthly installments and to upgrade every year—versus every two years—by trading in their devices.
According to Cnet's Roger Cheng, One Up is a variation of competing plans.
"One Up lets customers pick up a phone with no money down and pay for the device in 24 monthly installments. A phone that costs $649.99, for instance, will cost $27 a month (with the difference tacked on to the 24th payment)," wrote Cheng. "If a customer leaves the service early, that person is on the hook for the balance of the device cost, due the following month."
Customers will sign up for One Up along with a My Way or All-In plan and, when they do, receive a $15 discount, bringing, for example, Sprint's My Way plan to $65 a month.
A Sprint spokesperson told eWEEK that the company doesn't comment on rumors.
T-Mobile Is Shaking Up the Industry, as Promised
In January, T-Mobile began offering an Unlimited Nationwide 4G Data plan without a two-year contract—the first of several promised "un-carrier moves." In March, it announced it was simplifying things. It launched Simple Choice plans, switching to an entirely contract-free strategy, and began offering subscribers the option to pay for devices in interest-free monthly payments, instead of up front.
In May, T-Mobile completed its merger with prepaid brand MetroPCS, and on July 10 it introduced Jump, a $10-per-month plan that, after six months, allows users to update their phones twice a year.
T-Mobile CEO John Legere, speaking in December 2012 about his intended un-carrier plans, said that customers are fed up with the way they buy phones and are billed.
"We think there is huge room for a challenger to change some of that, in a way that the larger players will not be able to, or will choose not to, respond to," he said.
On July 16, however, AT&T responded to Jump with Next, an offer to upgrade a smartphone or tablet every year with no down payment, activation fee, upgrade fee or financing fee. Users pay a monthly payment for a device, and after 12 payments are eligible to upgrade.
On Aug. 26, Verizon Wireless followed with Edge. Again, users make a monthly payment for the device. While they can upgrade after six months, they have to have made 12 months' worth of payments to do so (making it likely that many will just upgrade after a year).
It's natural, then, that Sprint, too, will offer a monthly financing plan, and understandable that it's the last to do so. Sprint is the only leading carrier to still offer unlimited high-speed data—a strategy that its peers long ago ditched as unsustainable—which gives it less wiggle room.
(Sprint has acknowledged it can't keep up its unlimited data offer forever, and there's a hint of this in its new offer to sign up for unlimited data for the lifetime of a service agreement. The deal seems to suggest: We won't be doing this forever; get it while you can.)
By now, one expects that Legere has adjusted to the idea that T-Mobile's peers can and will respond to its un-carrier moves.
"This is going to continue," Legere said of T-Mobile's untraditional offers, during the carrier's Aug. 5 earnings call. With Un-Carrier Phase 2 rolling out, he added, "I want you to know—and this should drive a bit of fear into the industry—we already know Un-Carrier Phase 3, and we know when it's coming."