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Sprint Simplifies Pricing in Effort to Keep Customers

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NEW YORK (Dow Jones) Sprint Nextel unveiled a series of simpler wireless service plans in an effort to keep its customers and win over new ones with more competitive rates.

The Overland Park, Kan., wireless carrier continues to lose customers, but has been making moves to make its monthly plans more attractive. Following with its $99 "Simply Everything" plan, Sprint will offer unlimited messaging and data plans that work in conjunction with its family plans. The plans also include other bells and whistles such as Sprint TV and navigation services.

It's unclear, however, if the new plans will stop the bleeding.

"We believe it will take even steeper and more broad price cuts by Sprint to return the company to positive subscriber growth," said Walter Piecyk, an analyst at Pali Research.

The move follows a similar plan unveiled by T-Mobile USA, which launched an unlimited family rate plan on Friday. The plan offered a similar discount to existing rates and was expected to spur further rate cuts by rival carriers. T-Mobile USA is a unit of Deutsche Telekom.

Some Sprint's plans, meanwhile, offer a better deal over older rates. A family of three sharing 3,000 minutes and unlimited messaging and data for $45 a month will save 19%, according to Piecyk.

Sprint in its press release took pains to point out the savings its plans offer over rivals AT&T Inc. (T) and Verizon Wireless. Piecyk estimated the plans offer a savings of around 19% versus AT&T and 24% over Verizon Wireless.

The plan is available to new customers, while existing customers can switch to the new rates without adjusting their contract length.

Sprint's stock recently traded at $8.17, down 28 cents, or 3.3%.

-By Roger Cheng, Dow Jones Newswires; 201-938-2020; roger.cheng@dowjones.com

(END) Dow Jones Newswires

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