Sprint Counters T-Mobile US "Test Drive" and Zero-Rated Music Consumption

The new T-Mobile US "test drive" program, which allows the first million takers to test an Apple iPhone 5C for seven days, without obligation to buy the device or keep the service, has been countered by Sprint, which now offers a 30-day money back guarantee for new potential customers.

The satisfaction guarantee allows new customers who are not satisfied with the Sprint experience to cancel within the first 30 days, with Sprint refunding the cost of the device and waiving all service and activation charges.

The satisfaction guarantee is available beginning June 27, 2014 to new consumers and select small corporate liable customers who activate a new line of service at a Sprint company owned store or preferred retailer, by calling 1-800-SPRINT1 or using www.sprint.com/network.

The guarantee also is available to current customers adding new lines of service in a Sprint store, online at sprint.com or by calling 1-800-SPRINT1.

Some might argue Sprint already was in position to essentially “zero rate” use of streaming music services, as T-Mobile US has announced, since it already had offered unlimited unlimited mobile data plans.

Oddly enough, though many mobile service providers are moving away from “unlimited” data plans, we might see the return of a modified form of such plans, on a wider scale, if and when for-fee mobile video streaming services become more popular.

As contentious as the issue might be, that zero rating of bandwidth is essentially what cable TV, satellite TV and telco TV firms already do, as a standard practice. The cost of a linear video subscription video plan is embedded in the cost of using the service, and does not impose a separate bandwidth charge.

That’s the difference between a managed service and an over the top Internet accessed service. So zero rating of bandwidth consumption could eventually re-emerge, if not in a full “unlimited” Internet bandwidth offer.

There will be fierce debates, but managed voice, video and other services are not “Internet” apps (from a regulatory perspective), it will be argued, and not without merit.
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