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Sprint Hopes To Break Out Of 4th Place By Slashing Bills

By Ian Bush

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) --- Sprint has long been the laggard among the major wireless providers -- but the company is showing its discontent with a distant fourth place by offering a price break for prospective customers.

Those confusing 'Framily' plans are gone, but Sprint wants you to join its family -- if you're on one of the two big cell carriers:

"They say if you're an AT&T or Verizon customer, bring us your bill, and we'll cut it in half," says Re/code senior editor Ina Fried.

Fried says it's not quite as simple as that, though.

"They're cutting in half the portion you pay each month for service -- the calling, the texting, the data," he said.

You'll still have to pay for the smartphone itself: maybe $20/month for each iPhone if you don't buy it outright. Sprint also promises up to $350 to get you out of your current wireless contract -- a move with which third-place T-Mobile has seen success.

Sprint says customers who sign up can keep their rate as long as they want -- and as long as they don't change their data plan.

The move comes as Consumer Reports ranked Sprint "dead last with a very poor score for value, a poor score on data service, and middling results for voice and text" (to which Sprint responded noting recent "dramatic changes in the two areas that matter most to customers -- price and network").

The question for those with Verizon and AT&T, says Fried, "Even if it is cheaper, do you want a network that hasn't gotten the highest ratings, and which is missing the high-speed service in a lot of cities?"

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