Ditching Verizon Wireless for Sprint: The sweet data deal

March 5, 2007: 8:35 AM ET

Palmtreo700p

I was already itching to ditch Verizon (VZ). My wife and I had switched from Sprint (S) two years ago, because Sprint service was spotty in the apartment where she lived before we got married. But it was time to switch back.

Two years back we got on a Verizon Wireless family plan and commenced to paying through the nose – between $155 and $170 per month, typically – for two lines with enough minutes for both of us. We need a lot of minutes

because we don't use a home phone. But it always grated on me that Verizon plans were so much pricier than Sprint's, particularly because the only pocket of space where I had a big problem with Sprint's network was in my wife's old apartment.

So you can imagine how thrilled I was a couple of weeks ago when Sprint unveiled the calling plan I've been waiting for all my life: A flat fee of $149.99 per month for unlimited voice minutes, text messaging, data, video, everything – plus a free Pantech laptop connection card with unlimited Internet access. I made the switch this weekend. (The bad news for all of you out there drooling: For now, this plan is available only in the San Francisco Bay Area.)

We got my wife a separate $79.99 plan with 900 minutes and unlimited text messaging, since we're texting each other more and more throughout the day. We had to get it as a separate plan, because Sprint doesn't have a family plan option on the $149.99 unlimited deal.

In all, we'll be paying about $50 more per month with Sprint than we were with Verizon, but I get a big boost in productivity for my phone and laptop. Now I can check and respond to e-mail from my Palm (PALM) Treo 700p wherever I am, without having to worry about extra charges. And I can get more work done on my daily train commute from Silicon Valley to San Francisco – as I type this, I'm somewhere north of Palo Alto, probably approaching 70 mph. According to the broadband speed test at dslreports, I'm connected to the Internet at 877 kbps, which would be a good speed for home DSL.

UPDATE: From the "My Account" area of Sprint's site, here's what I'm getting for $149.99 per month, not including free unlimited mobile broadband. Note that I did not have to purchase the laptop connection card – it was free.

Unl Access + Power Vision + Broadband

  • $90.00 Unlimited Access Pack
  • Unlimited Anytime Minutes
  • Unlimited Domestic Text Messaging
  • Unlimited Power Vision Access
  • Unlimited Picture Mail
  • Nationwide ROAMING
  • Nationwide Long Distance
  • Caller ID
  • Call Waiting
  • Three-way Calling
  • Voicemail
  • Total Retail Value $289.98
  • Unlimited Access Discount Of $139.99
  • with Required Connection Card Purchase

Frankly, this was something Sprint needed to do more than Verizon. Verizon has done a great job in recent years marketing its network, keeping customer churn (people switching away from its network) near industry lows, and squeezing a decent amount of money, on average, out of its users. At the end of January, Verizon announced it had topped $10 billion in revenue for the fourth quarter, added a balance of 2.3 million subscribers, and booked average data revenue per user of $7.91. Analysts agreed that much of the growth came at the expense of Sprint.

From where I sit, though, Sprint is heading in the right direction. If its network can handle the traffic from power users constantly tapping into broadband using connection cards, it's likely to have me and my wife as customers for a very long time.

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