Sprint Ends "One Up" Frequent Device Upgrade Program; the Issue is Why

It isn’t completely clear why Sprint has decided to end its One Up program that allowed users to upgrade devices more often, as the other major carriers earlier had decided to do as well. But Sprint’s launch of new “Framily” plans might have something to do with the rationale.

First, consider why carriers decided to change policies on device subsidies in the first place. In part, the thinking was that some customers really did want to upgrade devices more often than every 24 months. So the One Up program was intended as a response to such demand.

But Sprint might have found that actual use of the program wasn’t as high as some had thought. On the other hand, by some estimates, perhaps 40 percent of account holders, with multiple lines on each account, would consider switching plans, but are deterred by early contract termination fees.

That is why both T-Mobile US and AT&T Mobility are trying to lure customers on such plans by agreeing to pay the ETF fees when an account switches.

Perhaps Sprint concluded that the bigger upside, either in terms of customer retention, or customer acquisition, is not so much related to phone upgrades, but keeping and getting multi-line accounts.

Sprint’s “Framily” plan formalizes the process of creating “family” or multi-user accounts including unrelated persons, billing each account separately though applying discounts as though all were on a single family plan.

There are other possible explanations for what seems a rather abrupt shutdown of the device upgrade plans. Sprint might be closer to launching some other initiatives deemed more important, and no carrier wants to support too many different programs all at once.

But one might guess that Sprint already has discovered that there actually is less demand for rapid device upgrades than it had expected, or that the battle over mulit-user accounts now seems the most-important customer segment to protect and grow.
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