There are several companies with access to a special Sprint based plan intended for non-profits, healthcare and educational industries.
These operators are taking advantage of a clause in Sprint's acquisition of Clear in 2013.
Sprint bought Clear in 2013, and stopped providing that service in 2015 - shutting down the legacy WiMAX network entirely to make more space for 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, and the old contracts were inherited by Sprint.
The reason this it is possible for non-profits to resell Sprint data plans on the cheap is thanks to a loophole in the terms of service for the non-profits:
"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."
To sign-up for one of these non-profit based plans, you generally have to become a member of the non-profit organization (we list many of these below), which includes service prepaid for at least several months and a mobile hotspot device. There are sometimes criteria required to become a member - such as being low-income.
As these plans are intended for non -profits, we have seen several companies over the years who offered these plans suddenly loose access to the plan and go out of business. This is especially true with companies that form just to offer this plan or who don't actually have a non-profit service angle.
As many of these plans require a substantial upfront 'donation' to get access to the plan, when this happens there generally is no refund for prepaid service - as you're not technically paying for the plan, but for a membership in the non-profit.
Take 4GCommunity for example (our report on that flop) - in late 2017 they lost their plan, and their members did not receive a refund for their membership fees for unused service. And then members were stuck with subpar gear that couldn't be re-used on a similar service.
Both freedata.io and jumpwireless also seemingly disappeared out of thin air without a report of them leaving the market.
Use caution - while these deals are often amazing for those who qualify and/or can use Sprint service to meet their needs, they do come with a history of risk of disappearing suddenly. We recommend sticking with a true non-profit company.
For Our Comparative Pricing Grid:
Guide to Cellular Data Plan Pricing
In the past, members of our team have kept plans on both 4GCommunity and CalyxInstitute, confirming the plan works as intended. However, of course, our 4GCommunity service was suddenly discontinued when they were shut down.
Policies & Perks:
- Carrier Networks Used: Sprint
- Carrier Relation: Reseller
- Plan Types Available: Data only
- Device Types Permitted: Hotspot
- Device Purchase Required: Non-profit dependent, but typically, yes.
- Mobile Hotspot Use: Yes - all
- Throttling: None
- Network Management: 50GB
- International Roaming: No international coverage is included.
- Domestic Roaming: No domestic roaming or 3G Sprint coverage
- Plan Period: Yearly
- Data Roll Over: No
- Overage Charges: No
- Streaming: There are no restrictions or blocks on video streaming.
- Unlimited: Yes
- 4GCommunity Ending Internet Plans Posted on: October 23, 2017
- PCs for People Offering $10/Month Unlimited LTE Data for Low Income Households Posted on: October 21, 2016
- Calyx Institute Offering Unlimited & Unthrottled Sprint Service Posted on: September 26, 2016
Potential Alternatives to Consider:
For other featured cellular data plans ideal for RVers and Crusiers - here's some other options 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 $500-600, which includes the mobile hotspot device and 1 year of unlimited Sprint service. Additional years are $400, resulting in a cost of about $33/month.
- PCs for People & Connectall.org - Available to only qualifying low income households. Monthly service comes out to about $10/month if prepaid for a year, but shorter terms are available too.
- Netbuddy.co - New in summer 2019, their model rings similar to this plan - however NetBuddy is not known to be a non-profit. Theirs is advertised as a $420/year donation (but on special for $240 - $20/month) and requires a device purchase. They also state that the SIM card can be moved to other devices.
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.