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Sprint Offers Data Plan With Access To A Single App

$12 On Sprint Buys You... Not Very Much

Do you like Facebook? Do you like nothing else? Or maybe you only ever go on Pinterest, or Twitter, or Instagram? You may be one of the few out there who restrict their entire experience of the greatest project of collective knowledge in human history to a single site, a single stream of their friends’ baby pictures or Kardashian weddings. If so, there is a deal for you.

Sprint have unveiled a new plan for mobile customers on their network which features a data plan costing only $12 a month, but which only allows you to access Facebook. Or Twitter, Pinterest or Instagram. Or for an extra $10 you can get all four, and for $5 you can get unlimited streaming from music service like Pandora or Spotify.

While the cost of data can be prohibitive for many low-income families, it seems like trampling over any concept of net neutrality is a poor way to help them out. One of the great things about the internet – many would say its defining feature – is the ultimate freedom it offers. Every site is as accessible as any other, making it an ideal intellectual free market where it is truly the consumer who decides what is worth seeing and what isn’t.

By locking customers into only being access one app (not even one site) Sprint is inherently prioritising these already giant, established brands over all over online traffic. They are throttling any chance that emerging or developing apps may have to demonstrate their worth to the general population.

Unless, presumably, they get bought up by one of these giants and incorporated into one of these single access points.

Not only is this ultimately a poor deal for those in developed countries – who can still pay for more data or connect to Wi-Fi for expanded access – but it sets a dangerous precedent for the nascent mobile social networking community in developing nations. Facebook is already funding free mobile internet in Zambia with limited access, and if this concept becomes more accepted then there could be billions of people whose only exposure to the internet is that curated by Facebook or other social media behemoths.

What makes social media such an exciting area is that there is always the threat that a leaner, quicker company may be nipping at the heels of established success. For every Facebook, there is a Snapchat. For every Twitter, there’s a Whisper.

By building this fence, Sprint is negating this possibility. They are engendering the same situation which has led obsolete companies limping along in industries which are desperate for real competition but are hampered by archaic policies and practices. It is the same attitude which caused the eventual collapse of America’s car industry (and the mass unemployment that resulted from that) and which is currently hobbling broadband and cable services.

Of course, this all depends on whether customers actually take up Sprint’s offer. For now, it stands as a stark warning of what the future of mobile social media may hold.

Douglas is an English Literature graduate who has written about everything from music to food to theatre, now a content creator for Social Media Frontiers. No topic too large or too small. Follow him @DouglasAtSMF.

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Sprint Offers Data Plan With Access To A Single App Reviewed by Anonymous on Sunday, August 03, 2014 Rating: 5
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