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Sprint looks to fend off T-Mobile with new $60 unlimited data plan

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T-Mobile CEO John Legere thinks his company will overtake Sprint as the third largest US carrier by the end of 2014. But under the direction of a just-installed new leader, Sprint is already making moves to prevent that from happening. There are genuinely cool phones on the way. And much like T-Mobile, this new Sprint is all about value. Today Sprint announced a new $60 unlimited data plan for individual customers. The new option will be available beginning tomorrow, and Sprint says it "offers the best value among national carriers."

To reverse its ongoing customer exodus, Sprint is hoping to lure in many new subscribers with the $60 plan. To qualify, customers must purchase their smartphone outright, bring a compatible device to the carrier, or finance a new phone through Sprint's Easy Pay installment plan. Existing customers aren't being left out; you can switch over to the $60 unlimited rate if you meet one of the below criteria:

  • At least one phone on your account was purchased through Sprint Easy Pay
  • At least one line on your account is no longer under contract
  • You've got a line that's upgrade-eligible and want to make use of that upgrade
  • You add a new line of service to your plan

Sprint's not shy about it: tiered data customers may get priority over unlimited users

Sprint says the new $60 plan is the industry's cheapest path to unlimited data, pointing to T-Mobile's $80 Simple Choice package as its nearest competition. Except there's another problem, and this one's buried in the fine print. Sprint doesn't seem to like unlimited data all that much, at least compared to its tiered data options — which tend to bring wireless carriers far more money. Way at the bottom of a page singing the praises of unlimited data and living without fear of overages, Sprint says very plainly: "Other plans might receive prioritized bandwidth availability." So if you're in an area dealing with network congestion, Sprint may consider you less important than other customers and slow down your speeds considerably.

Today's announcement follows up on a new family plan Sprint introduced earlier in the week. New customers can sign up for a $100 plan that includes 10 lines (each with unlimited text and calls) and 20GB of data to share between them. Each line will also receive a bonus 2GB of extra data through 2015. But the limited-time offer isn't available to existing subscribers, which irked many. Still, under new CEO Marcelo Claure, Sprint is wasting little time and going after the competition aggressively. It hasn't gone unnoticed by T-Mobile. Today John Legere and Co. launched a new promotion of their own that rewards Simple Choice customers with a year of unlimited data for referring a friend to the network; the person signing up also gets the unlimited deal. So with Verizon and AT&T still comfortably leading both of them, Sprint and T-Mobile — two companies that were exploring a merger only weeks ago — are now battling to become the clear leader in wireless value.