Beware the 4G Surcharge
We have a number of clients that are interested in the fastest remote cell data services and have been asking about whether they should consider the 4G network currently offered by Sprint. Sprint has been offering Android phones from Samsung with a $69.99-per-month "unlimited" data plan with 450 talk minutes, based on a 2-year plan. But there is a surcharge catch. The Samsung Epic 4G comes with a $10-per-month "advanced data" surcharge, what for lack of a better term I will call Sprint's 4G tax.
Sprint's been pushing its 4G data for laptop users since last year, and it's for people who have the funding for a specific task: Getting better-than-typical cellular download speeds in certain locations. If 3G devices give you 1 to 3 megabits per second on average, Sprint's 4G only promises 3 to 6 Mbps, with peaks up to 10. And that's only if you are in an area where you get good 4G reception, another matter altogether.
Devices like the Overdrive, which creates a Wi-Fi network from a cellular carrier, are not perfect, but in the cellular world, nothing is perfect, and when it's working well, you can feel it on your laptop. People who buy cellular broadband access get what they pay for, and generally know what they're getting.
Sprint's explanation is that the $10 per month tacked on to the $69 or $99 unlimited monthly plans are not for the 4G but for "advanced data" services that the phones deliver. While this may be true, there are no Sprint 3G phones that carry the surcharge, and there are no Sprint 4G phones that do not. So anyone buying one of the hottest two phones at Sprint right now have to commit to an additional $240 over the next two years, even if they know full well they won't take advantage of the "advanced data" services, even if they figure out what those are.
T-Mobile is the only other carrier currently marketing "4G" smart phones, the MyTouch 4G and the G2, but since its 4G network is a technical extension of its 3G network, and not a whole new technology like Sprint's, T-Mobile doesn't charge you more.