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You'd think T-Mobile's announcement last week that it's finally getting Apple's iconic iPhone would make Sprint a little nervous. It shouldn't, says one analyst.
T-Mobile won't subsidize the iPhone, meaning customers will have to buy them at full price (starting at $649), but America's fourth-largest carrier plans to offer cheaper plans than its bigger rivals – AT&T, Verizon Wireless and Sprint – T-Mobile CEO John Legere said on Thursday. But Sprint-owned prepaid wireless brands – Virgin Mobile USA and Boost Mobile – already let customers buy iPhones without subsidies and pay cheap monthly rates. Writing for Seeking Alpha, a Saibus Research analyst calls Virgin Mobile's $55 unlimited plan the "best value in mobile telecommunications" and thinks a similar plan for an iPhone at T-Mobile will set you back $70.
Not only that, but the analyst is "not as impressed [with the T-Mobile announcement] as when Sprint finally landed the iPhone [in 2011]." Customer service is another big leg up for Sprint, compared to T-Mobile, seeing as how Sprint has improved in this category relative to its peers, considering recent surveys by J.D. Power & Associates and the American Consumer Satisfaction Index.
Sprint also leads T-Mobile in the 4G LTE race, Saibus noted, with LTE now available from America's third-largest carrier in 43 cities. T-Mobile, which offers an HSPA+ network, won't offer LTE service until late 2013.
Among the analyst's other comparisons between the two carriers is parent company. Japan's SoftBank "will provide greater long-term support" to Sprint than will Deutsche Telekom to T-Mobile USA, which is in the process of buying the nation's fifth-largest carrier, MetroPCS. SoftBank simply will have more to invest in Sprint when it officially acquires 70 percent of the company (regulatory approval pending) sometime next year.
It all adds up to Sprint "not shaking in its boots," Saibus said.