Sprint wants $29.99 to tether your phone over 4G. Considering 3G tethering is free, and Clearwire wants the same $30/month for no-contract 4G, things aren’t adding up here.
Read more to see why Sprint is doing this, and why you shouldn’t buy into it for now.
Sprint & Clear: Manager & Co-manager
Look it doesn’t take a genius to know that every organization thrives when it has two leaders. [shakes head] Go ahead, name a country that doesn’t have two presidents. A boat that sets sail without two captains. Where would Catholicism be, without the popes. – Oscar, The Office
Clear’s relationship with Sprint is painfully complex. Sprint has basically sold off part of their 4G network to gain an infusion of cash from Motorola, Intel, Google, and the cable operators. Clearwire was the vehicle for this transition, as already having an upgradable 4G footprint.
Unfortunately, this makes pricing between Sprint and Clearwire an utter nightmare. In the past year alone, Sprint has been selling to business customers WiMAX-only same service, for the same price, but with a two year contract attached. Faced with Clearwire’s contract-free standpoint, few are biting on those type of terms.
The problem here is that Sprint can’t undercut Clearwire’s price-points for Clear service. They can only throw in 3G service and tout a more complete solution. Essentially, Sprint is undercutting their 3G service to add 4G contracts.
So, when Sprint announced yesterday that you would have to pay $109.98 per month to get an EVO 4G with tethering… it was a disappointing un-surprise. Sprint is unwilling to give away 3G services in order to lock in 4G contracts. Even, when faced with Verizon Wireless happily giving away 3G mobile hotspot service (on the Palm Pre Plus and Pixi Plus). Indications are they will extend that to select Android devices as well.
One charge at a time…
But, just for fun, let’s break down these two charges so you’ll at least understand each of them.
First, the mandatory $10 4G service fee. This is typical for Sprint to do, they did the same when EV-DO service launched with Power Vision Packs. And, in terms of pricing, it’s actually pretty reasonable. 4G phones are not going to use as much data on average as 4G laptops or MIDs… barring the extremes (yes, I’m looking at you reading this article… odds are, you’re in that extreme group if you’re reading this).
The $29.99 tethering fee is a bit different however. Sprint fears that EVO 4G owners will drop mobile broadband cards. What they don’t realize, or are turning a blind eye to, is that consumers buying EVO 4G wouldn’t typically pay for the tethering service to begin with. And, they’re highly unlikely to be burning $840 per year on an aircard.
3G tethering on Android is free, on the Android Market no less, with apps like PdaNet. And, even if Google hadn’t done an about-face and returned those apps to the Android Market, Android is open. That’s why being open matters.
I’m not going to beat a dead horse here. Here’s what I suggest you do.
Don’t buy an EVO 4G. Instead, pick up a Clear Spot and sign up for 4G service at $29.99 per month. Then, go get a Samsung Moment or HTC Hero and pay a one-time $19 fee for PdaNet for Android.
The result? No, you won’t have HDMI. You won’t have YouTube HD (though we’re sure “an app for that” will come along). And you’ll have a screen that’s slightly smaller. But, you’ll be smiling. Because you’ll have an extra $200 in your wallet at the end of your contract.
Would you buy an EVO 4G if it was $199 + $200 = $399? Sound off in the comments.