With the iPhone 5 set to be released later this fall, there have been some rumors that Apple may be looking to release the phone on both the Sprint and T-mobile networks.
Piper Jaffray analyst Chris Larsen speculated as much earlier this month in a report. "While we remain uncertain regarding the next-generation iPhone's specs and features, we believe the most noteworthy change could be the device's ability to run on more networks, specifically Sprint and T-Mobile in the U.S.," Larsen stated.
The carrier that will most likely make the biggest gains through the iPhone 5 release will probably be Sprint, because they are currently the only mobile operator offering true unlimited data, the holy grail for avid iPhone users. Sprint has never been shy in voicing this fact in marketing material either. While competitors say they offer unlimited data, there are actually tricks in place to discourage the use of large amounts of data.
The discouraging tactic is called data throttling. The practice involves slowing down a mobile user's data speeds as they use more data. Currently, both Verizon and T-mobile employ this practice on unlimited data subscribers. AT&T announced today that they will begin throttling unlimited data subscribers starting on Oct. 1. That leaves Sprint as the last standing cellular service to still offer true unlimited data.
When the iPhone launched on both the AT&T and Verizon networks, both companies initially used unlimited data to attract customers, only to later pull back and offer a tier system of paying for data.
If the iPhone 5 is released on Sprint, the company will probably push the discrepancy over data between them and their competitors even harder than they already do to make up for lost subscribers.
Sprint announced yesterday that they had experienced a 101,000 contract customer decline in the last quarter, a number that was four times larger than what analysts had been expecting.
Sprint also revealed that they had made a loss of $847 million on $8.3 billion in revenue last quarter. The loss was higher than last year's $760 million. The main reason was that they had to spend more in order to retain customers.
Analyst Walter Piecyk of BTIG LLC told Bloomberg News "It's costing them more just to maintain their base than anyone expected."
In order to get out of their current slump, Sprint is going to have to find a formula for retaining and attracting customers at a lesser cost. Being able to be the only mobile service to flaunt a true unlimited data iPhone wouldn't hurt.