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Wednesday, April 25, 2012, 02:00 pm PT (05:00 pm ET)

Sprint will continue to offer unlimited data for next-gen iPhone

Although Apple's follow-up to the iPhone 4S remains unannounced, Sprint CEO Dan Hesse confirmed on Wednesday that his company will be offering unlimited data even if the device supports 4G LTE.

The third largest U.S. wireless carrier by subscribers aims to maintain the iPhone's unlimited data plan in what it believes is a trump card against competing offerings from other networks that have the handset like AT&T and Verizon, reports CNET.

"I'm not anticipating the unlimited plan would change by that point," Hesse said of the upcoming product's launch window. "That's our distinctive differentiator. We're clearly attracting customers from our competitors.""

Hesse's statement comes on the heels of Sprint's first quarter earnings call in which the company posted a loss of $863 million as 192,000 contract subscribers left the network. The exodus may be attributed to the shutdown of the Nextel network.

Despite the revenue slip, the telecom sold 1.5 million iPhones during the quarter, 44 percent of which were to new customers. This accounted for about 60 percent of all new subscribers joining Sprint's network in the past three months and brings the total number of subscribers up to 56 million.

The recent quarterly results are slightly lower than the company's holiday quarter where it sold 1.8 million iPhones, 40 percent of which were to new subscribers.

Sprint 4G

Source: Sprint


Wednesday's news adds to earlier statements from Sprint CFO Joe Euteneuer who revealed in March that the company's current arrangement with Apple allows for the sale of an LTE iPhone if and when the Cupertino-based computer giant chooses to release such a device.

Hesse notes that he has no inside information as to when the next iPhone will debut or whether it will carry LTE support, though he guessed that all networks will be able to tap into the functionality when Apple launches such a device.

"Our expectation is that we will all get the same device at the same time," Hesse said.

Sprint, the last of the "big-three" U.S. wireless carriers to sell the iPhone, signed a commitment with Apple last year for 30.5 million iPhones in what was then called a "bet-the-company" move reportedly worth $20 blllion. In a subsequent 10-K filing in February it was revealed the company actually spent $15.5 billion on the deal, but the handset's success was such that it planned to exceed the agreement terms and purchase even more units.

"Frankly, it's a marriage made in heaven," Hesse said Wednesday regarding the iPhone and Sprint's unlimited data plan.