There are some organizations with access to a special Sprint based plan intended for non-profits, healthcare, and educational institutions.
These operators are qualified to tap into an old legacy plan that Sprint inherited during its acquisition of Clear in 2013, and these particular plans are administered by master agent Mobile Beacon behind the scenes. The terms of the merger with T-Mobile should include keeping this plan around, and at present time, non-profits are still able to activate new lines of service now that the merger is underway and roaming onto T-Mobile towers is activated.
A little history
Sprint bought early cellular internet pioneer Clear in 2013, and stopped providing service to Clear customers in 2015 - shutting down Clear's legacy WiMAX network entirely to make more space for Sprint LTE.
But the obligations behind the scenes that were attached to Clear's cellular spectrum requiring that discounted service be offered to non-profits remained in place, and these old contracts were inherited by Sprint. And in theory, these terms should also be inherited by the T-Mobile merger in 2020.
The terms of service attached to these plans include the disclaimer:
"You are permitted to use of the Service as long as you are a user, recipient or beneficiary of a non-profit programs or services, but not thereafter."
These terms let the non-profits in the program offer cellular service to their "beneficiaries" - and some non-profit organizations have made use of this clause to offer unlimited plans to their members.
To sign-up for one of these non-profit based plans, you generally have to become a member of a non-profit organization (listed below), which then includes cellular internet service as a membership benefit.
You are not actually purchasing a plan - and thus there are no refunds if you don't need the service for the full term you are a member of the non-profit, or if for some reason the organization loses access to the plan.
There are sometimes criteria required to become a member - such as being able to prove low-income status. But other plans remain open to anyone.
Last Update: November 18, 2020
Sprint is now part of T-Mobile, as per the merger that closed on April 1, 2020.
New Sprint customers are directed to T-Mobile to sign up for their plans, however, some of Sprint's legacy plans are still available in-store or over the phone. Customers on existing direct Sprint plans will be able to retain those plans for the next three years without price increases or changes to features.
The two networks still operate mostly independently with their own towers and frequency bands. Some Sprint customers can have their Sprint phones coded to make the T-Mobile network the primary network for their phones instead of Sprint. Sprint customers with recent 5G phones such as the Galaxy S10 automatically use T-Mobile as the primary network since the combined company is shutting down Sprint's 5G service.
As of October, T-Mobile is offering most Sprint smartphone customers that use the Sprint cellular network the ability to choose the "T-Mobile Network Experience". In short, TNX allows Sprint network customers with compatible devices to trade in their Sprint SIM card for a T-Mobile SIM card and move their plan to the T-Mobile network while retaining the features, billing, and terms of their original Sprint plan. You can read more about what this means here.
Starting in late November, non-profit Sprint based plans have T-mobile roaming enabled via a PRL update pushed to devices.
At present time - aside from Boost being sold to Dish Network - there are no changes to 3rd party, reseller or MVNO plans sold on the Sprint network. However, we are continuing to monitor the situation and will update as appropriate.
Policies & Perks:
- Carrier Networks Used: Sprint
- Carrier Relation: Non-Profit Reseller
- Plan Types Available: LTE Data Only
- Device Types Permitted: Hotspot - Device Specific (Officially)
- Device Purchase Required: Non-profit dependent, but typically, yes.
- Mobile Hotspot Use: Yes - all
- Throttling: None
- Network Management: 50 GB
- International Roaming: No international coverage is included.
- Domestic Roaming: Roaming onto T-Mobile towers when no Sprint signal included. No other domestic roaming or 3G Sprint coverage included.
- Plan Period: Monthly, Quarterly, Annual
- Data Roll Over: No
- Overage Charges: No
- Streaming: There are no restrictions or blocks on video streaming.
- Unlimited: Yes
Review & Testing Status:
Members of our team have kept these plans over the years, confirming the plan works as intended. Our team currently has Calyx and PCs for People in active service.
Related Articles & Videos:
Note: As of Sept 14, 2020 Calyx is no longer offering the 8000L or Coolpad Surf shown in this video.
- Sprint Non-Profit Unlimited Hotspot Plans Gain Access to T-Mobile Roaming - Calyx, PCs for People Posted on: November 18, 2020
- Calyx Institute Introducing Quarterly Pricing on Unlimited Sprint Hotspot Offering Posted on: March 10, 2020
- 4GCommunity Ending Non-Profit Sprint Based Unlimited Hotspot Benefit Posted on: October 23, 2017
- Calyx Institute Offering Unlimited & Unthrottled Sprint Service Posted on: September 26, 2016
Potential Alternatives to Consider:
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- Calyx Institute - A long time non-profit dedicated to protecting internet privacy, they offer a 'Contributor' membership level for $500, which includes the mobile hotspot device and 1 year of unlimited Sprint service. Additional years are $100 less. They also offer quarterly payment options, which works out to $600/year. This makes the range in cost $33-50/month depending on the option you select.
- PCs for People - Available only to qualifying low-income households. Monthly service comes out to about $15/month, plus equipment purchase.
- Connectall.org - Available qualifying low-income households, for $11.95/month.
Selecting the right cellular data plan for your mobile internet needs is only one part of the equation. Here's some further guides on understanding the selection process as well as the additional gear you might need.