Sprint is hoping it may be last but not least. The operator is reportedly set to launch Sprint One Up, a program that lets customers pay for mobile devices in installments and then upgrade after a year. The program will make Sprint the last of the U.S. national operators to offer an early upgrade program.
Sprint One Up, which is set to launch Sept. 20, will be much like T-Mobile’s Jump, AT&T’s Next and Verizon’s Edge program in that it won’t require users to wait until their contract period is up to be eligible for a new phone. It lets customers buy a phone in installments and then upgrade after a year by trading in their old device. One Up, which works with Sprint’s Unlimited, My Way or All-In plans, offers a $15 discount, providing unlimited talk, text and data for just U.S.$65 a month. The comparable plan from T-Mobile costs U.S.$70.
Yankee Group Senior Analyst Rich Karpinski comments
“Sprint has been tweaking its plans this summer, starting with multi-line/family discounts and its lifetime guarantee of unlimited data for customers opting in now (plus the less-noticed but equally impactful option of allowing customers for the first time to pay less in exchange for data caps). Following up now with an early upgrade plan is an obvious next step. Such plans are good for operators because they trade one lock-in (two year contracts and early termination fees) for a more seemingly customer favorable one (device financing plus early upgrade options, albeit with balance payoffs if subscribers leave early).
We won't know exactly how customers take to these until we see at least a quarter's worth of results and guidance. Our take: It’s a savvy compromise by U.S. operators that don't want to give up their large and lucrative postpaid ranks but need to make a nod toward giving subscribers more flexibility and value. It puts the onus on customers to continue to do compare-and-contrast plan math and determine what they value most—raw savings or a mix of perks and flexibility.”