Sprint Strikes Back, And Needs A Hit, With Unlimited Mobile Plan

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Sprint Nextel Thursday launched a new service plan, Any Mobile Anytime, that offers unlimited calling and texting to any U.S. mobile phone, regardless of carrier, for a flat rate of $69.99 a month.

The aggressive pricing -- it's about $30 cheaper than Sprint's existing Simply Everything plan -- comes as Sprint is losing subscriber numbers to rivals AT&T and Verizon even as new, Sprint-exclusive phones like Palm's Pre and Pixi and the upcoming HTC Hero hit the marketplace.

Sprint CEO Dan Hesse called the plan, which also includes unlimited picture and video messaging with its text capabilities, "unprecedented" in its "simplicity and value," and an evolution from previous Sprint plans.

"Simply Everything and Ready Now were Sprint innovations to make wireless simpler and more worry-free for our customers," said Hesse in a statement. "We don't think our customers want to have to keep track of or only talk to friends, colleagues or family members who make the same choices they do. Any Mobile, Anytime provides unprecedented simplicity and value, so much that many more customers can now consider cutting the cord altogether."

Sprint's plan comes a day after AT&T debuted A-List, joining similar flat-rate offerings like T-Mobile's MyFaves and Verizon's Friends and Family plan.

Any Mobile Anytime doesn't cover landline calls, but an $89.99 version of the plan that also includes unlimited messaging, e-mail and GPS is also available.

Sprint has exclusive carrier rights in the U.S. with Palm's Pre and its just-announced Pixi phone, and next month will see the launch of HTC Hero, Sprint's first Google Android-based smartphone.

Roger Entner, a Nielsen & Co analyst quoted in the Sprint release, later told USA Today that the new Sprint plan should help Sprint gain ground on AT&T and Verizon, which each have about 80 million mobile subscribers in the U.S. to Sprint's roughly 50 million.

"This offer plugs all the holes in Sprint's portfolio," Entner suggested.

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