Providing even more fodder for the iPhone is coming to Sprint rumor mill, SprintFeed is reporting that Sprint next week will begin instituting a $350 early termination fee for users who decide to opt out of their contract. Depending on how many months a user has left on his/her contract, the ETF will be pro-rated accordingly.
Sprint’s new ETF, which is a significant bump up from what used to be $200, will reportedly only apply to smartphones and other advanced mobile devices such as tablets and netbooks.
As the old business adage goes, it costs a lot more money to attract a new customer than it is to keep a new customer, and steep early termination fees are becoming more commonplace for smartphones as carriers seek to increase customer retention.
Highlighting the raised stakes of user retention, it’s interesting to note that AT&T’s original ETF was a relatively affordable $175. Now it’s twice that amount and Verizon has a similarly priced ETF for smartphones as well.
Sprint’s own early termination fee hike suggests that it too will be focusing on moving its subscribers from feature phones to advanced smartphones, setting a date the coincides with the iPhone 5 release. Sprint already sells high end Android phones and operates an expensive 4G network, but those devices make up a relatively small share of its subscriber base.
Sprint appears similarly inclined to leverage the popularity of the iPhone to upgrade its subscribers to more sophisticated smartphones. The company has also announced an event on October 7 to provide a “Strategy Update,” and Apple has posted jobs throughout 2011 apparently related to supporting a Sprint iPhone.
So while this piece of news by itself may not be all that intriguing, a growing number of signals are all pointing to Sprint carrying the iPhone come October. Remember that Apple had previously posted a job listing for a carrier engineer near Sprint’s HQ in Kansas and there was also a rumor that Apple was conducting advanced testing of the iPhone 5 on Sprint cell towers Apple installed on its Cupertino campus.
The most recent indication is that the iPhone 5 will launch on October 7.
via Sprint Feed