Sprint May Offer Unlimited Data Plans with iPhone 5

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Say you’re a major cell phone carrier, sitting in third place behind AT&T and Verizon. Suddenly a major phone manufacturer like Apple gives you the go-ahead to sell their bestselling products at your stores, eliminating the unfair competitive advantage that’s kept you from taking on your rivals.

With the game changed, what would you do to single yourself out?

According to people “familiar with the matter,” Sprint is planning to offer unlimited data with the mid-October launch of the iPhone 5 to steal customers away from Verizon and AT&T, according to Bloomberg. If true, it’d be an ingenious tactic, taking advantage of consumers’ festering unhappiness with AT&T and Verizon’s data caps.

(LIST: 50 Best iPhone Apps of 2011)

If you remember, AT&T was the first to ditch unlimited data plans for their customers last year; this summer Verizon followed suit.

Consumers were understandably up in arms. In Verizon’s case, consumers—who used to be able to pay $30 for unlimited data—now had to pay the same monthly rates for inferior plans: $30 now gets them 2 GB, or they can pony up a ridiculous $80 for 10 GB.

AT&T’s plan isn’t much better. Though they knocked $5 off their tiered data plan in the beginning, it was a paltry offering at best: $15 a month for a 200 MB plan, $25 a month for 2 GB, or $45 for 4 GB a month.

Sprint already runs unlimited data plans for BlackBerry and Android-powered devices for $100 a month. Though an official announcement hasn’t been made, a similarly-priced premium could incentivize the heaviest of iPhone data users to make the switch, especially as Apple’s done a good job so far of proving that it can make identically sound products across different carriers.

Every facet of the iPhone 5 has already been speculated to death (even that’s probably an understatement). One thing’s for sure: Sprint already seems poised to sell a lot of them with its unlimited data offer; now we’ll see if they’ll be able catch up in the rankings, too.

[via Bloomberg]

MORE: So Long, Verizon Unlimited Data, We Hardly Knew You

Chris Gayomali is a reporter at TIME. Find him on Twitter at @chrigz, on Facebook, or on Google+. You can also continue the discussion on TIME’s Facebook page and on Twitter at @TIME.

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