Sprint and T-Mobile, already in fierce competition to grab market share from the two biggest telecom companies, took their rivalry to a new level Thursday: both will now offer wireless plans with unlimited data for a set monthly fee.
The separate announcements, coming within minutes of each other and accompanied by now familiar sparring between both companies' CEOs, raise the stakes for the other carriers to follow suit, as they have with cutting data overages and eliminating cell-phone contracts.
T-Mobile CEO and President John Legere took to Twitter first in the morning saying that the nation's third-largest carrier would put an end to wireless data tiers by offering only one, fully unlimited plan for data, calls and texting.
The brash Legere and T-Mobile, with their "Uncarrier" strategic moves such as removing overage fees for exceeding data limits, have led competitor AT&T to recently do the same. "Today we are smashing another major pain point for wireless consumers," T-Mobile CEO John Legere said in a video posted Thursday on Twitter. "This will change the industry forever."
T-Mobile's move didn't go unanswered for long. About the same time that Legere posted his video, Sprint CEO Marcelo Claure delivered his own Twitter message that the carrier would offer its own Unlimited Freedom plan, starting Friday, with unlimited talk, text and data for $60 monthly for one line, $100 for 2 lines and $30 more monthly for each additional line. (In comparison, a current Sprint unlimited plan is $75 monthly for one line.)
Sprint had been testing unlimited plans in select markets including Boston, Milwaukee, Phoenix and much of Oklahoma over the past four weeks, he says, and challenged Legere's comments that Sprint was merely "cutting and pasting" T-Mobile's plans. Rather, T-Mobile called its own "emergency press conference" to beat Sprint to the punch, Claure said in an interview with USA TODAY.
"I’ve always given John Legere credit for his innovation, but I think this time he saw we were going to do something special," Claure said. "He copied and announced and he wasn’t ready and I think a lot of people recognized that."
The name-calling continued on Twitter. "You truly are a con artist," Claure said on Twitter. "Come on @JohnLegere all this drama for this !!! @sprint new plans are much better without the drama queen show."
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