Sprint might not stay unlimited

John Moe Nov 28, 2011

I watched some TV over the holiday weekend. Football, a sort of so-so new Peanuts special, more football. And I saw this one Sprint ad over and over that talked about how Sprint’s data is unlimited and will never slow down.
Well, it might get limited and slow down.


Sprint is planning to upgrade its network to LTE but it’s going to do so with half the spectrum bandwidth of its rivals.

From Reuters:

Sprint has assigned just 10 megahertz of spectrum for the launch compared with its rivals’ 20 megahertz, analysts say. It will have to reassign airwaves being used for other services in order to expand its capacity for LTE.

“It’s a very bare-bones implementation of LTE,” said Tolaga Research analyst Phil Marshall. “The risk is, if you don’t have headroom as your LTE subscriber base grows, then the speeds will go down.”
In that situation, Marshall does not see Sprint being able to continue to offer unlimited services.
“Unlimited is going to kill them,” he said. “I think they’re going to have to back off from the all-you-can-eat plan.”
You can look at this situation, this stark math, in a couple of ways, of course. One being that Sprint can’t stay unlimited at 10 MHz. The other being why can’t AT&T and Verizon offer unlimited or something close to it at 20 MHz? I would suspect the answer has something to do with their being on top while Sprint is struggling to catch up.

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