Sprint has launched an all you cam eat wireless plan for $120/month which includes unlimited voice, text-messaging, and data services. For an additional $30/month, subscribers can get unlimited mobile broadband data service. While only in limited markets, including San Francisco, Sprint is certainly testing the market before deciding whether to go nationwide.
The implications are important. If successful, such a plan could accelerate wireline substitution, but more importanly may begin to impact landline broadband for the first time in a meaningful way. Subscribers may begin to look at landline broadband in much the same way they now look at landline voice – do I still need it? As mobile broadband, which uses EV-DO Rev. A in Sprint’s case, begins to take hold, will subscribers see it as a substitution for DSL and cable modem? Certainly not everyone will, but maybe enough to take notice. And mobile broadband will only improve. As Sprint and others begin to roll out WiMAX, mobile broadband will inch closer and closer to the landline broadband experience. Maybe not enough to equal it, but perhaps close enough to impact it. When you add the killer apps of convenience and mobility to the equation, it may tip the scales in mobile broadband’s favor.
What’s next? Maybe video. As mobileTV begins its ascension, could the future reveal a scenario where a mobile device synchs with a set top box and streams wireless video content to a television. As broadband throughput continues to improve for mobile devices, we may not be able to tell that much of a difference between mobile and landline for all telecom and entertainment services. Before I get ahead of myself, many wireless engineers will tell you that there is simply not enough wireless spectrum to support the mass adoption of these services by mainstream consumers. Perhaps they are right, but mass adoption may not be required. All that is required is enough – enough to cause the same disruptive force that landline voice service has already witnessed. Is landline broadband next?