Sprint Nextel Corp is the nation's third-largest mobile carrier, yet it doesn't even offer Apple's coveted iPhone... at least, not yet.
According to "people familiar with the matter," the company has signed a deal with Apple to begin carrying the iPhone line starting mid-October. The deal includes offering an unlimited data plan with a flat fee, and Apple's next model, the iPhone 5, which still has yet to be revealed.
Sprint has also reportedly postponed the September debut of a rival smartphone that uses 4G wireless technology in order to prepare for the iPhone 5 introduction. Sprint executives are even expecting the addition of the device to boost the company's overall stock price.
Naturally Apple has declined to comment on rumors or speculation.
Previous reports indicated that Apple would announce the iPhone 5 and a cheaper, cloud-based iPhone 4 just after it's yearly iPod Touch refresh presentation in September. That meant the new iPhone and iPod Touch products would launch sometime in early or mid-October as the Sprint-based insiders are now indicating.
But given that both AT&T and Verizon have eliminated their unlimited data plans for new contracts, Sprint's new deal with Apple provides a better foothold as it goes head-to-head with the two larger rivals on the iOS field, if not the upper hand thanks to the unlimited data. Right now Sprint’s unlimited voice and data service costs a meaty $99.99 a month for BlackBerry and Android-powered devices.
"The advantage of unlimited is, it’s cheaper for the big users," said Peter Rhamey, an analyst at Bank of Montrea. "People don’t like bill shock. Consumers will pay a premium for unlimited."