Report: Sprint Could Drop Unlimited Data as Capacity Nears
It looks as though Sprint is taking its unlimited data plan to the chopping block, which means the last of the true all-you-can-eat data providers in the United States will be going the way of the dodo. But why? Details coming right now …
According to a lengthy Reuters report, Sprint’s problem with unlimited data isn’t a technological problem, it’s a capacity one — unfortunately for Sprint, it has ” just 10 megahertz of spectrum for the [LTE] launch compared with its rivals’ 20 megahertz,” according to analysts who spoke to Reuters. As Sprint upgrades its network to the new Long Term Evolution (LTE) mobile standard, bottlenecking is likely to occur due to the small bandwidth spectrum Sprint has deployed. Hence, throttling.
However, a Sprint spokesperson told Reuters there’s nothing to fuss about and unlimited data won’t go anywhere after LTE is fully rolled out. Why? Because Sprint has a joint venture in (fledgling) WiMAX company Clearwire, which may help with LTE proliferation, and Sprint has a whole bunch of spectrum that iDEN currently runs on that it’s about to retire. iDEN was the once popular ‘push to talk’ technology that made Nextel so famous, but Sprint plans on putting that to sleep for good by 2013 and converting that 800MHz spectrum over to LTE.
But is it really enough? Reuters seems convinced that Sprint is in a tight spot, between Clearwire’s impending bankruptcy and Sprint’s own sickly stock price, which is at about $2.50. Coupled with the possible fallout from the aborted AT&T and T-Mobile merger (which could give T-Mobile an easy $6 billion simply for stopping by), Sprint may be headed for even tougher times.
Here’s what I think: Apple should buy Sprint. Maybe that sounds crazy, but Apple is the company that puts a capital “C” in “control.” Since Steve Jobs was initially interested in creating a personal Apple cellphone network, Apple could probably do amazing things with the spectrum. It certainly has the capital to inject to revive and expand the network, too. At this point, cell coverage comes down to assets more than technology. It’s about towers, spectrum and bandwidth. If it’s true Sprint is ill-prepared for the future with LTE, then the market will vote with its wallet.
Losing Sprint as a carrier isn’t necessarily a bad thing because I think a void left by Sprint (or a buyout) actually will be filled by something bigger and better. And maybe it won’t be Apple, it could be Google. But something has to give, because I’m sensing an increased dissatisfaction with mobile service providers in the United States.
Do you think the fate of Sprint could shape the cell provider landscape? Chime in and let us know.