Humberto Saabedra is the Editor-in-Chief of and an occasional columnist for He can also be found musing on things at @AnimeNewsdotbiz

41 responses to “Sprint to Apply Premium Data Surcharge to New Smartphone Activations On January 30th”

  1. JJ

    So this mean that it is no longer an advantage in pricing to go with sprint? Now sprint is in par with verizon prices. This isn’t going to help them keep customers when the iphone is available on verizon.

  2. Jon

    Sprint still has Unlimited data. Everyone else went to tiered data. It still comes out to be cheaper, and you don’t have to worry about data overages.

  3. Noelle

    Not really…Sprint Everything Data with 900 minutes is $89.99 with unlimited data and text + $10 Premium Data is still cheaper than VZW’s 900 minutes for $59.99 + $29.99 for unlimited data + whatever text option. And with a similar family plan Sprint’s plans still win.

  4. Phoneman

    This was bound to happen. Sprint has been charging customers the $10 fee for 4G ever since the Evo was launched. When customers got the ball rolling on a class action because they didn’t have 4G in their area and Sprint was charging them for it, Sprint simply started charging everyone for it so they could claim it was never for 4G.

  5. Jon

    ALSO, i just read, this only applies to new smartphone customers. not current ones.

  6. Jason

    JJ, We understand that an increase in rates isn’t necessarily welcomed news. But it doesn’t change the value advantages Sprint still offers. Even with the $10 per month Premium Data add-on, Sprint continues to provide the best value in wireless compared to our top national competitors.
    Jason Gertzen, Sprint

  7. Seth

    I’ve been a Sprint customer for nearly 10 years now, but I’m done. My contracts are up, and the numerous changes in Sprint’s policies and fees have significantly reduced the value of Sprint’s service. From requiring me to purchase data on all of my lines, to the elimination of the international data plan for Blackberries, the value is gone. I was willing to accept Sprint’s shoddy 3G coverage in Iowa when I was saving significant amounts of money over Verizon, but now that the prices are within a few dollars of each other, and one network covers 75% of the state with 3G, and the other covers about 10%, the choice is pretty easy to make, and it’s not in Sprint’s favor….

  8. Tim Cooper

    “Existing Sprint smartphone customers are not affected unless they upgrade to or activate another smartphone.”

    This is just odd….they must be getting the iPhone.

  9. Phoneman

    People keep saying Sprint is still the best value. I would really like to see a comparison chart. I’m posting from my phone so it is not easy to do the legwork…

    Does anyone know of a chart that lines up Sprint, Verizon, AT&T, and T-Mobile, with prices for single user and family plans.

    Does T-Mobile still give you a cheaper rate if you pay full retail for the phone?

    This might be a good suggestion for a article…

  10. Jason

    Phoneman, You might take a look at the Value Comparison Chart available here:
    Jason Gertzen, Sprint

  11. Phoneman

    @ Jason
    That chart does not include family plans, which I’m sure adding $10 to every line has to be killing Sprint’s supposed best value.

    It also does not include T-Mobile’s plans for people that purchase the phone at full retail. And with Sprint rumored to be getting rid of the yearly upgrade, that would have to be killing Sprint’s supposed value too.

    You can’t raise prices across the board, while simultaneously killing the yearly upgrade, and expect to still be the best value.

    I’d like to see a complete chart. And not one that compares a Sprint 450 minute plan to everyone else’s totally unlimited plan…

  12. Christopher Price

    Well, we now know how Sprint will work around their situation with Clearwire. I’m sure Clearwire is having a good laugh at Sprint’s expense this morning… even if it doesn’t help their bottom line, and makes litigating the Premium Device Fee War an even more hazy situation.

  13. Manny

    Sprint needs money to fund it’s Network Vision Initiative and possibly help fund or buy Clearwire. I’m glad Sprint is still cheaper than the other carriers. If adding 10 dollars per month to a customer’s bill will give Sprint’s customers CDMA 1X Advanced (simultaneous voice & data, faster data speeds, and improved voice quality on the 3G network) and increased WiMAX (4G) coverage, then Im all for it. If I were Sprint, I would have created new plans that increased the minutes such as a 700 minute Everything Data Plan for 79.99 and 1000 Everything Data Plan for 99.99, which would make the customers feel like they are getting a good deal even with the price increase. Sprint needs to learn how to sell the advantages of the price increase with their plans on how to use the additional revenue. Sprint must announce more details of the Network Vision Initiative and specifically how it will benefit customers. That could ease the minds of their customers and make them more proud to invest in the company’s plans.

  14. Tim

    So does this also effect Simply Everything plans? If so, is it on a per line basis for family plans?

  15. Phoneman

    Will this let people out of their contract without etf?

    If I have an Evo and change to an old Touch Pro that was previously active, can I cancel my contract if I get hit with the $10 fee?

    With Verizon and T-Mobile ashley having faster 4G and better 4G coverage than Sprint, I’d be interested in porting over to one of them if the price is similar. Even AT&T is looking good with that Atrix 4G phone.

  16. rizzo

    does this qualify as a TOS change where customers can dump sprint without ETF?

  17. Sonic Fan

    Wow, Sprint’s really putting the last nail in their coffin by introducing this fee right before the Verizon iPhone.

    I also just love the same tired PR Sprint puts out after every price increase “Sprint continues to provide the best value in wireless”. Like others have mentioned, if you use Google Voice, or some other app for texts, then Verizon’s 450 minute plan is actually $10 a month cheaper now (yeah you don’t get “Any Mobile Anytime”, but that might not be an important feature for some people).

  18. Stephen Diamond

    How do you think this ties into the Special Dan Hesse announcement in New YOrk, on Feb 7?

  19. Christopher Price

    We are checking with Sprint on the ETF situation. From my view, it’s an ETF-out plain and clear… however, we’re waiting to hear what Sprint has to say about it.

  20. Phoneman

    That February 7th announcement better be very, very good.

    How can they announce a price increase, the elimination of yearly upgrades, and a way to cancel your contract without paying an ETF, at tter same time Verizon launches the iPhone, AT&T launches the Atrix, and T-Mobile launches their new 42 meg 4G and several phones that use it?

  21. Josh

    Im pretty sure that for most people sprint will still be the cheapest option but if you ask me its kind of a slap in the face to stick everyone with a “premium data surcharge” when just a few months earlier sprint was touting its unlimited data plans at a certain price point. I think what this really means is Sprint will eventually move to the tiered data plans (with overages) like everyone else has.

  22. Jason

    @rizzo and @Christopher Price An existing line with a smartphone activated prior to Jan. 30, would remain unchanged. In the future, if a customer activates or upgrades to a smartphone, the Premium Data add-on charge will be added to their monthly bill.
    Jason Gertzen, Sprint

  23. Phoneman

    @ Jason
    So if I have a smartphone right now, and change to a different smartphone that I have laying around the house right now, would I get hit with the fee?

  24. rizzo


    I read earlier on another site an ESN swap regardless of how you got the phone into your possession will trigger the new fee. So I feel this should be a free ETF out. It’s a change that is laying and waiting to hit a person. Say my phone craps out on me and I have an old palm cetro I can use. POW the new fee suddenly applies. Even though the fee is not “active” with someones current smartphone should not matter. Sprint needs to eat it on this one if people choose to seek service elsewhere.

  25. rizzo

    here’s the info..

    Premium Data Add-on Charge for All Smartphones

    Effective 1/30/11, all current and future 3G and 3G/4G smartphone activations will require the $10/month Premium Data Add-on charge. This allows Sprint to continue to offer simple and affordable unlimited data plans for our smartphone customers, while maintaining a wireless network able to meet the growing appetite for mobile data.

    Complete details are included in the Premium Data Add-on Charge Launch Guide found on ISC > Quick Links > Premium Data Add-on Charge.


    The Premium Data Add-on charge applies to:

    * All smartphones operating on the CDMA, iDEN and 4G networks.
    o A smartphone is defined as a device that supports a robust operating system including: Android, BlackBerry, Instinct, Palm and Windows Mobile.
    * All customers activating a new line or upgrading/swapping existing lines (consumer, IL, and most CL customers).

    The Premium Data Add-on charge does NOT apply to:

    * S&R exchanges (warranty or insurance events)
    * 30-Day Satisfaction Guarantee devices exchanges for handsets activated 1/1/11 to 1/29/11
    * Existing smartphone customers will remain on their current rate plan, until they upgrade, perform an ESN swap or activate a new smartphone
    * Existing Seasonal Standby customers prior to 1/30/11

    # Special priced CL customers tied to a Corp ID

    from BGR dot com

  26. g00b

    Ummm … Doesn’t Sprint realize the only reason we put up with their service is the plan price is slightly less than VZW? They must be releasing the iPhone 5 with WiMAX in early February, and they need to get a head start on revenue for their WiMAX build out.

  27. bayportbob

    g00b —- i cannot believe that anyone will announce an iPhone 5 being available unless it comes from apple. that would be a one more thing thing.

  28. Chuck

    Sprint has a Q&A stating this will not be an ETF out seeing as how they allowing current smartphone subscribers to keep their plan as is with no increase. If they made it mandatory for everyone, you’d have a legit case for ETF’s being wiaved. As is, it will not allow anyone to leave ETF free.

  29. dan chisu

    i called sprint. they told me if i swap my device even for same model the fee hits.

  30. Chuck

    The only way you can swap your device and not get hit with the new fee is if you swap to a non smartphone or the swap is part of a service & repair transaction.

  31. Phoneman

    If you are currently on a smartphone plan and swap for your own device that you happen to have laying around the house (and was previously active on your account), and you get hit with the fee, that should absolutely be a “get out of contract free” move.

    Perhaps an organized mass FCC filing is in order if Sprint disagrees. You can’t raise the price of smartphone data on a smartphone plan that requires data and claim it isn’t a material change to the agreement.

  32. rizzo

    I agree with Phoneman. This is a money grab timed to go in to effect right before their big industry first announcement. Just like AT&T did with raising their ETF right before Iphone 4 came out. So whatever is coming from Sprint soon they seem to think it will bring new customers or existing will want to upgrade requiring a data plan. +10 more dollars.

  33. Christopher Price

    There’s no need for “organized” mass filings. If you think a carrier is breaching their contract, take the initiative for yourself and go to to file a complaint. We’ve done it several times, and it has never taken us more than 10 minutes.

    I can tell you if five percent of affected customers took that action, Sprint would probably have to backpedal from the sheer amount of federal scrutiny that would be imposed.

  34. Sprint’s Premium Device Fee Material Change, Our ETF Out Dilemma |

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  35. Phoneman

    @ Christopher Price
    I agree that if 5% (or even less) of affected customers took action Sprint would backpedal. The problem is most customers don’t know that, and don’t know how to take action anyway.

    There is strength in numbers. That’s why an organized mass filing would be better than just filing a complaint and hoping everyone else does. If just one person files a complaint it will probably take months for the FCC to do anything about it.

  36. Creighton

    @Jason By charging this fee if I needed to simply swap my Palm Pre online for another Spare Palm Pre I have if I needed to is a clear breach and a material change. I am filing several complaints as well as spreading to the word to several other outlets and my local news consumer task team as well.

  37. Dominik

    As long as it remains unlimited (meaning no throttling if I have an unreal amount of data) then I have no problems with this.

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  40. cessch

    sprint is deceitful. after this 10 usd surcharge i am ready to switch carriers. am tired of the crappy customer service. and am tired of thier mainipulations