One of the main ways that we've seen Sprint help itself to stand out as of late, especially with the launch of its iPhone 4S, is by promoting the fact that it's the only carrier of the big four U.S. nationals that still offers unlimited data. However, many have wondered how much longer Sprint can/will offer an unlimited data plan, especially in the light of all of its recent data-related policy changes. The answer is still up in the air, but Sprint CEO Dan Hesse did touch on the situation in a recent interview with Forbes. Hesse said that the arrival of the iPhone on Sprint has allowed the carrier to keep unlimited data around longer than it would've been able to without Apple's device. "One of the beauties of carrying the iPhone is it extends the period of time and increases the likelihood of us maintaining unlimited data longer because it uses our network so efficiently," the exec said.
Hesse went on to explain that the iPhone is good at finding Wi-Fi signals and alerting users when a signal is available, which helps to lighten the load on Sprint's network. He also explained that the way Apple controls iPhone apps and makes them certain efficiency standards means that the devices are connecting to the network for data less frequently than other devices. Finally, during Sprint's Q3 2011 earnings call, Hesse said that iPhone users "are expected to use significantly less 3G than the typical user of a dual-mode 3G, 4G device" and because of that, more iPhone users on Sprint will actually lighten the network's load.
No matter which mobile camp you call home, it's good to hear that Sprint will be able to continue to offer unlimited data plans for the time being. We still don't know precisely how much longer Sprint can offer bottomless buckets of data to its customers, but considering how much the carrier likes to tout the fact that it's got unlimited and its competitors don't, I'm guessing that the Now Network is going to ride this as long as possible.