Sprint mobile broadband plans 2011
One of the biggest selling points for picking up an iPhone 4S on Sprint has been that it was the only carrier still offering unlimited data to new customers for the hot phone. As a matter of fact, it is the only carrier boasting that it has truly unlimited data period as T-Mobile throttles your speeds as you get to higher usage levels. Sadly, it looks like the end may be nigh for those on the Now Network.

Sprint has very quietly rolled out an announcement on its site that beginning next month it will be removing unlimited data from its mobile hotspot plans.  This covers using your phone as a hotspot, or if you use any of the carrier’s standalone products.  The chart above shows you how the transition will work, and it’s a fairly large shock to the system for heavy data users, especially those that currently have access to WiMax locations.  The overage charges aren’t exactly pretty either.

The changes are explained from the technical angle, but certainly not from the philosophical side of the decision:

Currently, if you use your phone’s Mobile Hotspot add-on, the Mobile Hotspot data usage is combined with your phone data usage. Effective on your next bill following notification, your monthly mobile hotspot on-network data usage will be limited to 5GB of 3G or combined 3G/4G usage dependent upon device capability. Additional data use above 5GB is $.05/MB. Your monthly off-network data limit will continue to be 300MB, which is a combination of phone and Mobile Hotspot data usage.

There will be no change to your Mobile Hotspot add-on monthly recurring charge. Additionally, if your phone plan contains unlimited data, you will continue to enjoy unlimited data usage on your phone while on the Sprint network.

While the statement does specifically point out that there is no change to how much data you can consume on your actual phone, but one has to wonder just how much longer that will be true.

Sprint has been making several changes of late that are cutting back on benefits for customers, such as eliminating the premiere program.  Considering their third place position currently, and the possibility of the AT&T and T-Mobile merger hanging over them, eliminating benefits might reduce costs, but it’s not going to entice new customers to their ledgers, and could also possibly alienate existing subscribers.  While this current decision probably impacts a minority of Sprint’s customers, you have to wonder what the next announcement might bring with it.

What do you think of Sprint changing its mobile hotspot plans?