If in fact Sprint (NYSE: S) has managed to land a deal for the iPhone 5 when it is expected to arrive within the next several weeks, it will be quite an accomplishment for the struggling carrier. And it could have an edge on rivals who already carry the iPhone if it offers an unlimited data plan, as a report Friday indicates.
Word of Sprint’s plans to sell the iPhone 5 surfaced last month, and Bloomberg reported Friday that it will offer an unlimited data plan when it does arrive. That could give Sprint an edge when competing against AT&T (NYSE: T) and Verizon, neither of which offer unlimited data plans anymore.
For almost all users, unlimited data plans are kind of silly. A study by Nielsen earlier this year found that 90 percent of U.S. smartphone users consume 1GB of data or less on average a month, well below the largest data-plan ptions at both Verizon and AT&T (10GB cap and 4GB, respectively). But there’s a psychological edge that comes with knowing that you can’t exceed your data limit, and it’s also true that as more and more services shift toward mobile devices, data usage will increase.
In any event, it will be interesting to see how these three wireless carriers compete against each other when it comes to selling the iPhone. AT&T and Verizon have tussled on network quality and technology, such as the ability of AT&T’s network to let iPhone users talk and use mobile data at the same time.