During CES 2014, Sprint took the opportunity to unveil a new take on family plans, which it is calling “Framily” plans. Even though the name conjures up memories of Fraggle Rock, the term is actually a combination of “Friends” and “Family,” reflecting the fact that these plans are designed for people who want to get the discounts of a family plan, even if they don’t live under the same roof. Here’s how it works.
The Sprint Framily Plan is available to new and existing customers. Up to 10 people can join, and each account can be billed separately. The more people that you add to the group, the greater the savings will be for everyone on the plan.
For one line of service, new Sprint customers pay $55 per month per line for unlimited talk, text and 1GB of data. For each additional new Sprint customer that joins the Framily group, the cost per person goes down $5 a month, up to a maximum monthly discount of $30 per line. This means that after seven people, there are no additional discounts – but if you’re interested in this, it still might be good to build a buffer in case some people decide to drop out. That way your rate will have a small chance of randomly going up.
It’s important to note that to participate, customers have to purchase a wireless phone at full retail price or through the Sprint Easy Pay program, which allows up to 24 monthly payments. Customers also can activate an existing Sprint phone. 2GB of data can be added for $10 (3GB total), or unlimited data can be added for $20. Existing Sprint customers can also switch to a Framily plan, although they’ll pay an extra $15/month if they’re under contract (Sprint is temporarily waiving this fee, though).
So how does this compare to T-Mobile’s family plans, which are the closest competitors in price and plan structure? Let’s take a look.
To compare apples to apples, I highlighted the unlimited data offering of each carrier. Red is more expensive, green is less expensive, and yellow is equal. As you can see, if all lines had unlimited data in a T-Mobile family plan, in the majority of cases, T-Mobile would still be cheaper than Sprint. The only time that Sprint is less expensive is in a 7-line Framily plan. With 8 lines, both carriers are the same price. Any more or any less, and T-Mobile is the clear winner.
There are several things to keep in mind when comparing these plans:
- T-Mobile has a five line maximum per family plan, although well-qualified customers can oftentimes get up to ten lines (although there would still be two separate family plans). That’s why the price per line jumps a bit from five to six lines with T-Mobile.
- The average price per line with T-Mobile or Sprint could go down if some people in the group don’t need unlimited data.
- T-Mobile does not charge overages. All plans include unlimited data; it’s just that T-Mobile throttles its 500MB and 2.5GB plans once those caps are met. Sprint, on the other hand, charges overages. There is no way to “turn off” Sprint data once your limit is hit, either.
- Your Sprint bill could be unpredictable in a Framily plan – if people leave the plan without telling you, your bill will go up.
- Sprint offers individualized billing for Framily plans, while T-Mobile does not.
Financially, T-Mobile is the winner in most cases. However, there are other things to consider: perhaps you need more than 500MB, but not a whole 2.5GB. Perhaps you need individualized billing. Maybe Sprint offers better coverage where you live. Perhaps T-Mobile offers LTE while Sprint is still stuck on 3G.
You should consider all of these things before making up your mind. However, I think it’s pretty clear where I stand on the matter.[Sprint]