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Sprint undercuts T-Mobile unlimited HD streaming option

Sprint rolled out a new premium option for its unlimited plans providing access to HD streaming $5 less expensive than T-Mobile Binge On option

Sprint’s broader push into unlimited data services continues with the launch of its new “Unlimited Freedom Premium” option that tacks on support for higher-quality streaming content for an extra fee.
The new premium offer is priced at a $20 premium per line over the basic “Unlimited Freedom” plan launched last week. For the additional fee, customers are provided access to high-definition quality streaming for video, music and mobile games, which the carrier pegs at 1080-pixel quality for video, music streaming at up to 1.5 megabits per second and games streamed at up to 8 Mbps.
The offer builds on the “optimized” streaming package offered as part of the carrier’s launch last week, which provides unlimited streaming video to customers selecting the new plan, but throttles to limit video quality to around 480p, music streaming to 500 kilobits per second and gaming to 2 Mbps. Sprint said multiline accounts can have either option per line.
The video optimization package is similar to T-Mobile US’ Binge On service, though Sprint was quick to point out its offering works with all streaming video content and not just those that meet a specific carrier requirement. Just ahead of Sprint’s announcement last week, T-Mobile US hosted its “Un-carrier 12” event, which included the unveiling of its unlimited One rate plan that includes Binge On, though customers can purchase unlimited HD quality streaming for $25 per month per line.
The Sprint plans are currently available, while the new T-Mobile US One plans are set to launch Sept. 6. Sprint is currently offering a limited-time promotion providing customers signing up for the basic plan access to the premium plan at no additional charge through the end of October.
Sprint’s new basic plans include unlimited voice calling, text messaging, high-speed data and optimized streaming video priced at $60 for the first line, $40 for the second line and $30 per line for lines three through 10. Sprint’s previous unlimited data plan was priced at $75 for the first line, $45 for the second line and $30 per line for lines three through 10. Similar to other carriers, Sprint does claim the ability to limit network speeds for customers in some instances of service congestion.
In addition to increasing pricing competition for unlimited rate plans, the move also could help Sprint migrate from its current reliance on its long-running 50% off promotion. The carrier has hinted it plans to deemphasize that controversial program, with talk of launching new plans to coincide with the release of Apple’s latest iPhone device, currently expected for next month.
Financially, the new premium offer could provide a bump for Sprint’s struggling average revenue per user results, which in its latest fiscal quarter witnessed a postpaid drop of $3.94 year-over-year to $51.54. That bump should be seen if enough customers sign up for the new service on accounts of four lines or fewer.
The move also looks to be a play by Sprint to take advantage of its much talked about spectrum portfolio, which includes a deep supply of 2.5 GHz spectrum. The carrier has been moving to deploy more of its 2.5 GHz spectrum in urban markets, with growing use of 40 megahertz from that band and trials beginning of up to 60 megahertz of support.
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