Starting with the next billing cycle, customers' "on-network monthly data allowance will no longer include unlimited 4G," Sprint said in a notice on its Web site.
Until now, Sprint has offered three separate plans: 3GB of 3G data with unlimited 4G data; 5GB of 3G data and unlimited 4G; and 10GB of 3G and unlimited 4G.
Under the new option, those data caps will combine 3G and 4G access. If you have the 3G plan, for example, Sprint will offer 3G of combined 3G and 4G per month. Overages will cost $.05/MB, and users will have 100MB of off-network roaming, with $0.25/MB in overages.
Sprint will also limit data usage via a phone's mobile hotspot.
"Currently, if you use your phone's Mobile Hotspot add-on, the Mobile Hotspot data usage is combined with your phone data usage," Sprint said. "Effective on your next bill following notification, your monthly mobile hotspot on-network data usage will be limited to 5GB of 3G or combined 3G/4G usage dependent upon device capability."
Any data usage above 5GB will cost $.05/MB, while monthly off-network data will still be limited to 300MB. Pricing for this option will also not change and Sprint said "if your phone plan contains unlimited data, you will continue to enjoy unlimited data usage on your phone while on the Sprint network."
The mobile broadband 4G change is significant for those who might have been using the unlimited 4G as a replacement for home broadband. In an October guide to buying a wireless modem or hotspot, PCMag found that "Sprint offers the only truly unlimited 4G plan, so it's the only network you can use as a replacement for a home connection," but that is no longer the case.
notice from sprint's website