Family plans have been a part of the wireless industry for quite a while now, but Sprint recently introduced a new, unique spin on the group offering known as the “Framily Plan.” Launching on Jan. 10, the Framily Plan allows customers to gather a group of up to 10 people under a single account in order to save some cash on their monthly bills.
Here’s how the Framily Plan works: The starting rate is $55 per month for unlimited talk, text and 1GB of data, with the option of moving up to 3GB of data per month for $10 more or unlimited data for an additional $20. Each customer that’s added to a Framily Plan reduces that monthly cost by $5. Each individual in a Framily Plan is billed separately, and the maximum number of users allowed on a Framily Plan is 10. The discount maxes out at 7 group members, at which point each user will end up paying as little as $25 per month.
There are a couple of caveats worth taking note of here. In order to sign up for a Framily Plan, new Sprint customers must either buy a phone at full retail price, purchase a device with Sprint Easy Pay and spread the full cost out over 24 months or bring their own hardware. No subsidies here. Sprint does note, though, that Framily Plan users with the unlimited data add-on will be able to trade in their existing device and upgrade a new phone through Sprint Easy Pay every year.
Existing Sprint subscribers can join a Framily Plan, too, but if they’re currently using a discounted device, they’ll need to pony up an additional $15 per month until they’re upgrade eligible. However, Sprint is waiving that $15 monthly charge for customers that buy a discounted phone before Jan. 10 and aren’t upgrade eligible, though that offer will only be available for a limited time.
In addition to the introduction of its new Framily Plan, Sprint’s got some network news to share. The yellow carrier says that its tri-band Spark 4G LTE service is now available in an additional 6 cities: Austin, Texas; Dallas, Texas; Fort Lauderdale, Fla.; Fort Worth, Texas; Houston, Texas; and San Antonio, Texas. This expansion brings Sprint’s Spark footprint up to a total of 11 markets.
Sprint will also soon introduce a trio of new Spark-compatible products. The curvy LG G Flex and the Netgear LTE Gateway 6100D fixed wireless router will hit the Now Network’s shelves in the coming months, while the Netgear Mingle Mobile Hotspot will arrive on Sprint prepaid MVNO Virgin Mobile’s shelves this quarter. The Netgear Mingle features 3G/4G LTE connectivity, a 1.77-inch LCD screen, 1800mAh battery and support for up to 10 simultaneous connections. Virgin Mobile will offer the Mingle with its Broadband2Go service, which offers a daily plan at a rate of $5 per day as well as monthly plans that include 1.5GB of data for $25 or 6GB for $55.
Overall it looks like Sprint is off to a pretty nice start for 2014. The Framily Plan looks like a pretty interesting take on the traditional family plan, and while the lack of subsidies may be a concern for some, being able to bring your own device or spread the full cost out over a 24-month period are two ways to get around that. Meanwhile, it’s good to see Sprint expand its Spark LTE service, both to new markets and to Virgin Mobile. Here’s to hoping that it’s not long before Sprint’s Spark lights up even more cities with its speedy LTE service.