When the iPhone launched on AT&T’s network in 2007, the strain of accommodating the heavy data usage of smartphone users took a toll on the network’s infrastructure. It wasn’t too long before AT&T did away with unlimited data plans in an effort to get control of the amount of data served up by their networks. Even users who have been grandfathered in on the AT&T unlimited data plan will experience throttling at some point if AT&T feels as though the user is consuming more data than they should.
Fast forward to 2010 and Verizon is scheduled to begin offering the iPhone 4 on their network. Verizon featured unlimited data plans, but quickly followed in AT&Ts footsteps this year as they did away with unlimited plans and moved to the same tiered plans offered by AT&T. Obviously Verizon wasn’t comfortable serving up massive amounts of data on 3G/4G to its users and as it’s currently ranked as the No. 1 carrier in the United States, it’s hard to believe that a little guy like Sprint will stand much of a chance.
Sprint is currently ranked as the No. 3 carrier in the United States and is the only carrier of the major four to offer unlimited and unthrottled data for a single fee each month. If Sprint is able to keep these parameters for their unlimited plans, once the iPhone 5 launches in October, than Sprint would have a clear advantage over the two top dogs, AT&T and Verizon. If history is to repeat itself however, it seems more than likely that once the iPhone launches on Sprint’s network, then tiered data plans will be more than likely to follow a few months later.
Further validation that the iPhone 5 will launch on Sprint in October is the fact that the carrier has blocked employees from taking any vacation days between September 30 and October 15 for what is only being listed as a “major phone launch”. Current rumors estimate the iPhone 5 launch keynote will be either October 7th or October 14th. No other major cellphones are being released within that period, including the upcoming Android darling, the Samsung Epic Touch 4G.
For users expecting the iPhone 5 on Sprint with unlimited data, if history is to be believed, purchasing the phone at launch and then getting grandfathered in on an unlimited plan may be the best course of action, since the nation’s top two carriers buckled under the pressure of high smartphone usage. Common sense begs the question as to how a smaller network carrier like Sprint expects to offer a better service for some of the most data hungry smartphone users on their network without experiencing the same crunch felt by larger networks.