Sprint Announces Unlimited Freedom Customers Will Get Free Access to Hulu Starting This Friday

Sprint and Hulu today announced a partnership that will bundle the Limited Commercials tier of the streaming TV service into Sprint's Unlimited Freedom cellular plan. This means that new and existing Sprint customers who sign up for Unlimited Freedom beginning Friday, November 17 will be able to watch Hulu with Limited Commercials at no extra cost.

In addition, the companies said that sometime "soon" Sprint Unlimited customers will also get to upgrade to Hulu's sports and news-centric live TV plan. Because Hulu with Live TV costs far more than the Limited Commercials plan ($40/month versus $8/month), an added cost for the bundled-in service is likely.

“How people watch their favorite shows, listen to the latest music, and play the most popular games is changing all the time,” said Roger Solé, chief marketing officer. “We’re excited to provide Sprint customers the best in entertainment through our unique partnership with Hulu.”

Tim Connolly, senior vice president and head of distribution and partnerships at Hulu, added, “We know people love watching TV on their mobile devices, so we’re making it easier than ever for Sprint customers to enjoy their favorite shows and movies on Hulu. This exciting partnership with Sprint gives TV fans nationwide a powerful, seamless entertainment experience that they can take with them, whenever and wherever they want.”
Sprint Unlimited Freedom offers unlimited talk, text, and data for $25/month per line and the addition of a fifth line is free on every plan, amounting to $100/month for a family of five people. This discounted offer lasts until January 31, 2019 and at that time will increase to $60/month for line 1, $40/month for line 2, and $30/month/line for lines 3-5. There's also HD streaming video and an included 10GB mobile hotspot feature.

For more information on the collaboration between Sprint and Hulu, visit the carrier's website right here. Those interested will be able to gain access to the offer starting November 17, and it'll only be available online through December 8.

The Sprint/Hulu partnership is similar to an announcement made by T-Mobile and Netflix in September, when the companies announced that T-Mobile ONE family plans would start coming with free Netflix subscriptions later that month. "Netflix on Us" requires customers to have two or more paid voice lines on a T-Mobile ONE family plan, and if they already pay for a Netflix subscription, the un-carrier covers the cost of the standard $10/month price: "meaning you’ll save nearly $120 every year."

Tags: Sprint, Hulu

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T-Mobile and Sprint Officially Call Off Merger

T-Mobile and Sprint today announced that plans for a merger have officially ended after the two companies were unable to find "mutually agreeable terms."

Rumors last week suggested the merger might be called off because Sprint parent company SoftBank was having doubts about the deal over the ownership terms. SoftBank was concerned about "losing control" of the combined company, as T-Mobile parent company Deutsche Telekom wanted a controlling stake.


The two companies allegedly attempted to save the merger by negotiating new terms after Deutsche Telekom submitted a revised offer, but an agreement was not able to be reached.

In a statement, T-Mobile CEO John Legere said a that while a deal with Sprint was "compelling," it would have needed to offer "significant benefits" for both consumers and shareholders.
"The prospect of combining with Sprint has been compelling for a variety of reasons, including the potential to create significant benefits for consumers and value for shareholders. However, we have been clear all along that a deal with anyone will have to result in superior long-term value for T-Mobile's shareholders compared to our outstanding stand-alone performance and track record. Going forward, T-Mobile will continue disrupting this industry and bringing our proven Un-carrier strategy to more customers and new categories - ultimately redefining the mobile Internet as we know it. We've been out-growing this industry for the last 15 quarters, delivering outstanding value for shareholders, and driving significant change across wireless. We won't stop now."
Sprint CEO Marcelo Claure said Sprint had decided that it would be best to move forward alone. Sprint will instead aim to "compete fiercely" in the wireless industry.
"While we couldn't reach an agreement to combine our companies, we certainly recognize the benefits of scale through a potential combination. However, we have agreed that it is best to move forward on our own. We know we have significant assets, including our rich spectrum holdings, and are accelerating significant investments in our network to ensure our continued growth. As convergence in the connectivity marketplace continues, we believe significant opportunities exist to establish strong partnerships across multiple industries. We are determined to continue our efforts to change the wireless industry and compete fiercely. We look forward to continuing to take the fight to the duopoly and newly emerging competitors."
This is the second time that T-Mobile and Sprint have failed to reach a merger agreement. Sprint parent company SoftBank attempted to purchase T-Mobile back in 2013 in a deal worth more than $20 billion, but ultimately abandoned its plans in 2014 amid regulatory scrutiny.

Even had the deal succeeded this time around, it's not clear if it would have gained regulatory approval. Back in 2014, U.S. antitrust regulators said having four national carriers in the United States was important for maintaining a competitive market.


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Sprint and T-Mobile Merger Might Be Over Amid Fight for Control of Combined Company

Sprint parent company SoftBank may call off a planned merger between Sprint and T-Mobile, report Nikkei and Reuters.

SoftBank's board of directors is said to be having doubts about the deal due to a failure to reach an agreement about the ownership of the combined T-Mobile/Sprint entity. SoftBank is worried about "losing control" of the combined company, according to sources that spoke to Reuters.


Rumors suggest SoftBank could approach T-Mobile parent company Deutsche Telekom as soon as Tuesday to end the talks. Deutsche Telekom wanted a controlling stake in the combined company, which SoftBank's board has ultimately decided not to agree to. T-Mobile is still attempting to keep the deal going, but Deutsche Telekom does not plan to budge on demands for control.

A T-Mobile and Sprint merger deal has been in the works since February of 2017, and as recently as September, the deal was said to be close to done as SoftBank and Deutsche Telekom worked out the final details. T-Mobile CEO John Legere was set to lead the combined company.

Should the deal ultimately fall through, it will be the second time Sprint and T-Mobile have failed to reach an agreement. Sprint parent company SoftBank attempted to purchase T-Mobile in a 2013 deal worth more than $20 billion, but SoftBank abandoned its plans in 2014 amid regulatory scrutiny.

Even if the deal progresses and SoftBank does not end the merger, it's still unclear if it will gain regulatory approval this time around. In 2014, U.S. antitrust regulators said having four national carriers was important to maintaining a competitive market.


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Sprint Announces $350 Discount for iPhone X on Sprint Flex With Trade-in

Earlier in the month, Sprint launched an iPhone 8 discount program that brought the total price of the smartphone down by $350 through discounting the cost of monthly leases. Today the carrier has revealed a similar promotion will be coming to Apple's iPhone X, just a few days before pre-orders for the device begin on October 27.

Like the iPhone 8 deal, there are a few stipulations to come with Sprint's discount. First, to get the 64GB iPhone X at $22.22/month (down from $41.67/month) you'll have to sign up for the Sprint Flex leasing program, and you'll need to trade in an eligible smartphone. The Apple devices currently eligible range from the iPhone 6 and 6 Plus to this year's iPhone 8 and 8 Plus; various Android smartphones are also accepted. Both existing and new Sprint customers will be able to take advantage of the deal.


Under Sprint's deal, you'll be paying about $400 for the 64GB iPhone X over the course of the 18-month lease. Afterwards you can trade in the device to Sprint for a new lease and continue the program (which you can do after 12 monthly payments with iPhone Forever), or choose to keep the iPhone X. If you do, Sprint's $22.22/month discount will no longer be applied for the remaining monthly payments and the price will again rise to $41.67/month. With the 18-month discount and 6-month regular price, the 64GB iPhone X would come out to about $650 total, down from $999.

Additionally, Sprint announced that it will offer a "best price guarantee" for the iPhone X, so if you see a nationally advertised lower price within 14 days of your Sprint lease activation or preorder, you can receive the difference via a Visa Prepaid Card.

Verizon also announced its own iPhone X promotion today, but it appears the carrier is simply offering up to $300 off the device in regards to eligible smartphone trade-ins. Verizon hasn't yet delved into what this could be on a monthly lease basis for the iPhone X, but the company did say that the $300 trade-in/promo credit will be applied over 24 months, and ends when the balance is paid or the line is terminated/changed to another plan.

If you're looking to trade in your current smartphone ahead of the iPhone X's launch, Gazelle is gearing up to debut a promotion where you can get 10 percent more cash back on any smartphone traded in between October 24 and November 7. Gazelle offered some pricing examples of how the promotion will affect the trade-in values of a few iPhone models:

  • iPhone 7 256GB - up to $335 + 10% promo = $368.50

  • iPhone 7 Plus 256GB - up to $360 + 10% promo = $396.00

  • iPhone 6s Plus: 128GB - up to $215 +10% promo = $236.50


For more of the latest deals heading into the launch of the iPhone X, be sure to head over to our Deals Roundup.

Note: MacRumors is an affiliate partner with these vendors.

Related Roundup: Apple Deals

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T-Mobile and Sprint ‘Close’ to Finalizing Merger Deal, John Legere Said to Lead Combined Company

T-Mobile and Sprint are said to be "close to agreeing" to terms regarding a deal that would merge the third and fourth largest United States wireless carriers together. People close to the deal told Reuters that Sprint parent company SoftBank would own 40 to 50 percent of the combined company, while T-Mobile parent company Deutsche Telekom will gain the majority stake.

The terms of the deal are expected to be finalized by the end of October, "though talks may still fall through," the two sources said. Previously, U.S. antitrust officials told Sprint that a merger with another wireless carrier would face intense scrutiny because having four major carriers in the U.S. was important to maintaining a competitive market. During those talks a few years ago the situation of the companies was reversed -- since T-Mobile had yet to gain in popularity -- with Sprint seeking to acquire T-Mobile for more than $20 billion.


Now, those concerns are said to come into play again with regulatory scrutiny expected to face any deal between Sprint and T-Mobile "over concerns that the U.S. wireless market is becoming too concentrated."
T-Mobile US Inc is close to agreeing tentative terms on a deal to merge with peer Sprint Corp, people familiar with the matter said, a major breakthrough in efforts to merge the third and fourth largest U.S. wireless carriers.

Once terms are finalized, due diligence by the two companies will follow and a deal is expected by the end of October, though talks may still fall through, the sources said.
If the merger happens, the resulting company would have revenues topping $70 billion and more than 130 million subscribers, falling in line behind the two other major U.S. carriers -- Verizon and AT&T -- in terms of subscribers.

The combined company would be led by T-Mobile CEO John Legere, according to the sources, thanks to T-Mobile outperforming Sprint under his leadership. The new company would also undertake a "massive" effort to cut costs early on.


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Sprint Offering Free iPhone 8 Lease With iPhone 7 Trade In

Sprint today announced that well-qualified customers can lease an iPhone 8 with 64GB of storage for $0 per month after bill credits with the trade in of an eligible smartphone, including the iPhone 7, iPhone 7 Plus, and Galaxy S8.


With the trade in, Sprint will waive the regular $29.17 charge for 18 months. After at least 12 lease payments, all of which are covered by the promotion, customers can trade in the iPhone 8 and upgrade to a new iPhone.

The limited time offer appears to be available to both new and existing customers who activate at least one new line of service.

Sprint is also offering 50 percent off the 18-month lease of an iPhone 8 to customers who trade in an older smartphone, such as an iPhone 6, iPhone 6 Plus, iPhone 6s, iPhone 6s Plus, Galaxy S7, or Google Pixel.

Until October 31, 2018, Sprint's unlimited talk, text, and data plan costs $50 per month for the first line, and $40 per month for the second line, with up to three additional lines for free with AutoPay and paperless billing.

"Unlimited" has some caveats, including a max of 1080p for streaming video, 1.5 Mbps for streaming music, and 8 Mbps for games. After 23GB of usage in a billing cycle, data deprioritization applies during times of congestion.

Sprint will waive its $30 activation fee for customers who order online or by phone. There may be additional taxes and fees.

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Apple Watch Series 3: LTE Plan Prices on Verizon, AT&T, Sprint, T-Mobile, Bell, EE, and Deutsche Telekom

Apple Watch Series 3 is available with built-in cellular capabilities, allowing you to make phone calls, send and receive text messages, stream music, get directions with Apple Maps, use Siri, and more without a paired iPhone.


The freedom comes at a cost, however, as Apple Watch Series 3 models with cellular are priced $70 higher than those with Wi-Fi and GPS only. Also, to access LTE, the watch must be added to your phone bill as an additional monthly charge.

Here's a breakdown of how much participating carriers plan to charge. Some carriers have yet to announce their plans.



Verizon


Verizon said it allow customers to add an Apple Watch to an eligible plan for $10 per month. Verizon will reportedly waive its $30 activation fee, and is offering the first three months of service for free. The watch and iPhone share the same phone number via Verizon's NumberShare feature.

AT&T


AT&T has announced that customers can add an Apple Watch to an eligible plan for $10 per month. AT&T is offering a $25 activation fee credit, and a $30 service credit for adding an Apple Watch, within three bills. The watch and iPhone share the same phone number via AT&T's NumberSync feature.

T-Mobile


T-Mobile has announced that customers can add an Apple Watch to a plan for $10 per month with AutoPay. T-Mobile will reportedly waive its $25 new SIM card kit fee, and is offering the first three months of service for free. The watch and iPhone share the same phone number via T-Mobile's DIGITS feature.

Sprint


Sprint has announced that customers can add an Apple Watch to an eligible plan for $10 per month. Sprint will also offer a special introductory three-month cellular plan trial. The carrier has yet to specify whether its activation fee of up to $30 per line will be waived as well, but it would seem likely.

Bell (Canada)


Bell has announced that customers will be able to add an Apple Watch to an eligible plan for $5 per month. There is a one-time $10 activation fee. Bell will also offer a special introductory three-month cellular plan trial. The watch and iPhone share the same phone number via Bell's NumberShare feature.

Bell will not support the Apple Watch's cellular capabilities in Manitoba or Saskatchewan due to the carrier's lack of VoLTE in those provinces.

EE (UK)


EE has announced that customers can add an Apple Watch to an eligible SIM only or pay monthly plan for £5 per month, with the watch and iPhone sharing the same phone number. The carrier hasn't confirmed if it will be offering an introductory three-month trial, or if there will be an activation fee.

Deutsche Telekom (Germany)


Deutsche Telekom has announced that customers can add an Apple Watch to an eligible plan for up to €4.95 per month, with the first six months free of charge. The watch and iPhone share the same phone number via Deutsche Telekom's MultiSIM feature. The carrier didn't specify if there is an activation fee.



Apple Watch Series 3 models will be available to order starting tomorrow, September 15, at 12:01 a.m. Pacific Time. In-store availability begins September 22. LTE-enabled models start at $399 in the United States.


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T-Mobile Offered Fastest LTE Speeds in the First Half of 2017

T-Mobile was the carrier with the fastest mobile network in the United States during the first half of 2017, according to a new U.S. Market Report for Mobile Broadband shared this morning by Ookla.

The carrier scored a 23.17 using Ookla's new "Speed Score" metric that combines low-end, median, and top-end performance for both upload and download speeds. Ookla says this is a comprehensive metric combining all factors that "matter to a good network experience" into a single score.

Coming in after T-Mobile was Verizon, with a Speed Score of 21.13, while AT&T came in third with a score of 20.05 and Sprint brought up the rear with a score of 15.39.


According to Ookla, T-Mobile's "tightly-spaced cell site grid" and smaller subscriber base gave it an edge over Verizon and AT&T, both of whom are dealing with higher traffic loads since their unlimited plans were introduced last year.

While Verizon has managed to deliver "consistent and reliable performance" across its network despite the unlimited plans, the rollout of AT&T's unlimited plans resulted in a "notable drop in performance."

Sprint, unsurprisingly, had the slowest mobile network with a Speed Score of 15.39, despite improvements made over the course of the last year. From June of 2016 to June of 2017, Sprint LTE speeds improved by 23.7 percent, but the carrier still can't match the big three.
T-Mobile comes out on top for overall speeds and acceptable speeds at a national level and provides the fastest service in 40% of the largest cities in the U.S. Verizon Wireless has the fastest service in many of the cities we looked at and comes in first on acceptable speeds in the top 100 CMAs, but we suspect their use of depriortization on unlimited could be bringing down their overall performance.

AT&T falls near the bottom in consistency of acceptable speeds and also saw a spoke in low end speeds in Q2 2017. The slowest carrier, Sprint, struggles with consistently providing acceptable speeds but saw big gains in the first half of the year.
While the above chart information covers the United States as a whole, Ookla also compared mobile performance data in the 100 most populated Cellular Market Areas within the country. The rankings were the same, but T-Mobile and Verizon Wireless were nearly neck and neck. Across the board, users in populated cellular markets see higher speeds.


Mobile performance by carrier varies greatly from area to area, so while T-Mobile may have the best overall network speeds, AT&T or Verizon could have a significant edge depending on where a user is located. All four carriers are aggressively pursuing improved LTE speeds and network expansion through spectrum purchases, refarming legacy spectrum (like ending 3G networks), network densification, relay solutions, and other techniques.

Across all carriers in the United States, there was a 19.2 percent increase in average mobile download speeds between the first half of 2016 and the first half of 2017, with an average speed of 22.69 Mb/s.


Average mobile upload speeds didn't see quite as much improvement, coming in at 8.51 Mb/s for a four percent improvement year over year. When it comes to average mobile download speeds, the United States is ranked 44th in the world. That rank drops down to 65th for average mobile upload speed. In rural areas, performance can be significantly worse, with speeds that are 20.9 percent slower than the nation as a whole. Verizon (51.6%) and AT&T (27.3%) have far more coverage in rural areas than T-Mobile (11.5%) and Sprint (9.6%).

In addition to looking at network performance by carrier, Ookla also shared some data on LTE speeds across carriers on two popular devices: the iPhone 7 and the Galaxy S7. On T-Mobile and Sprint, broadband speeds were on average slightly faster for the Galaxy S7, with little difference on Verizon and AT&T networks.

Both the iPhone 7 and the S7 see higher mobile network speeds than other devices because they aggregate three component carriers to improve peak and average speeds. On T-Mobile, Samsung has an edge because the Galaxy S7 enables features like higher order modulation and 4-Layer MIMO.


Ookla's report is based on data gathered from its popular Speedtest Intelligence benchmark during the first half of 2017. More than 3 million unique devices performed more than 14 million user-initiated cellular network tests, giving the company a lot of data to work with to figure out trends during the year. For the S7 and iPhone 7 comparison tests, data from 250,278 iPhones was collected and compared to data from 134,742 Galaxy devices.

Additional test results covering minimum acceptable experience, the impact of unlimited data, fastest carriers by city, and more can be read in the full report.


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Sprint Launches New ‘Sprint Flex’ and ‘Sprint Deals’ Smartphone Purchase Options

Sprint today announced the launch of two new smartphone upgrade programs, Sprint Flex and Sprint Deals. Sprint Flex, as the name suggests, is designed to give users more options for upgrading their phones, including on an annual basis.

With Sprint Flex, customers can choose an iPhone for a low monthly price and begin making payments. Through Sprint's existing iPhone Forever and Galaxy Forever programs, customers can then opt to upgrade on an annual basis, trading in their devices each year.

After 18 months, though, customers can choose to return their devices for a new one, own the device by making a single payment, or own the device by making six additional monthly payments. Sprint has a chart outlining the program:


Sprint Deals, the other new program Sprint is introducing, will let customers purchase a smartphone without a credit check. Sprint Deals is limited to older devices like the iPhone 6s, but offers $25 to $30 down and payments of $5 to $10 a month.

Customers who apply for and receive credit with Sprint, can take advantage of Sprint Flex on a postpaid plan:

- For entry-level devices, customers pay $5 per month with $25 down.
- For higher-end devices, customers pay $10 per month with $30 down.

Customers who prefer to bypass a credit check with Sprint, can get an instant discount on the same "value menu" of smartphones, on a Sprint Forward prepaid plan:

- For entry-level devices, customers get 50 percent off the suggested retail price.
- For higher-end devices, customers pay 25 percent off the suggested retail price.
Sprint is also currently running a free service promotion that may make it an attractive choice for customers looking for an affordable smartphone. For customers switching from Verizon, AT&T, T-Mobile, or another postpaid carrier and bringing their own device, Sprint is offering one year of free unlimited talk, text, and 4G LTE data.

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Jay-Z’s Album ‘4:44’ Rumored to Arrive on Apple Music After One Week of Tidal Exclusivity

Soon after Jay-Z's newest album, "4:44," launched as an exclusive on his own streaming service Tidal, sources speaking to Billboard this weekend have said that 4:44 will be coming to Apple Music and iTunes later this week. Tidal and Sprint are believed to have a one week exclusivity window on 4:44, so it's predicted that the album will launch on Apple Music next Friday, July 7.

A rumor last year stated that Apple was in talks to purchase Tidal, but Apple Music executive Jimmy Iovine eventually denied those reports by saying, "We're really running our own race. We're not looking to acquire any streaming services." For a brief period of time earlier this year, Jay-Z even removed all of his albums from Apple Music and Spotify, although most eventually reappeared on Apple Music a few days later.


A track on 4:44, called "Smile," references the Apple Music and Tidal feud by specifically calling out Jimmy Iovine (via Business Insider).
F*** a slice of the apple pie, want my own cake
Chargin' my own fate
Respect Jimmy Iovine
But he gotta respect the Elohim as a whole new regime
The ongoing rivalry between the two competing music services is said to be negatively affecting the music industry as a whole, according to Kanye West who tweeted about the two companies last summer. Later in 2016, West blamed the fight between Apple Music and Tidal as the main factor behind the reason why there won't be a sequel to Watch The Throne, his 2011 collaboration with Jay-Z. Kanye's album "The Life of Pablo" began as a Tidal exclusive as well, before it eventually streamed on Apple Music and other services after a few months.

Exclusive deals for services like Apple Music, Tidal, and Spotify have come under fire in recent years by music labels and critics, but Apple has continued releasing exclusive music on its streaming service. Tidal has done the same thing with 4:44, tying the album into the service's recent acquisition by Sprint.
That source also confirmed that fans need to sign up for Sprint service in order to get the album if they are not already Tidal subscribers. Otherwise, as noted by disgruntled Jay fan hit-making producer Mark Ronson, it is only available to those who were pre-established Tidal subscribers before June 26 or already had Sprint service.
If this weekend's report is accurate, Tidal/Sprint's exclusivity window will be ending very soon, allowing more users to get a chance to listen to 4:44 than if it remained a streaming exclusive on Tidal. The sources didn't confirm whether 4:44 will make it to other streaming services in addition to Apple Music, like Spotify, after Tidal's exclusivity window ends.


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