Sprint just turned its customers into recruiters with its unique spin on the family plan

Sprint(s s) has always been resistant idea to the shared data plan unlike AT&T and Verizon Wireless, but on Tuesday it unveiled its own unique take on the family plan. Called the “Framily” Plan — a portmanteau of “friends and family” — it allows up to 10 people to sign up for a joint account. But instead of sharing data, minutes, or texts, the plan members share a collective discount.

Here’s how it works: A single Framily basic line costs $55 for unlimited talk and text and 1 GB of data, but for every additional member that joins, each plan is discounted by $5 a month up to a maximum discount of $30. So seven members on a single plan could reap the full benefits of a $30 discount per line. Each member, however, is billed separately and can customize their plans with unlimited data for an additional $20 a month.

Confused? Here’s an example: Say there are six people in your group, four of whom subscribe to basic lines and two of whom would get unlimited data. For each person beyond the first member, there’s a $5 discount, so everyone would get $25 knocked off his or her bill. The 1 GB subscribers would pay $30 a month, and the unlimited subscribers would pay $50. If you added more people to the account, everyone get a further $5 discount.

Sprint Framily plan

The bottom line is if you can rack up even a small-sized group, these plans are cheap. $55 is already a reasonable price to pay for service with a plan with 1 GB of data, but at the maximum discount, you could pay as low as $25 for 1 GB and $45 for a truly unlimited plan, which puts Sprint in the price range of even the most budget virtual operators.

The catch is that these plans are only available to customers who pay full price for their phones or bring a Sprint-capable phone to the network. Basically Sprint is creating a cheaper rate structure for customers that don’t take subsidized devices.

Customers can also participate in Sprint’s upgrade program One-Up if they buy their phones in installments, making them eligible to trade up for a new phone each year. If you’re a current Sprint customer who already has a subsidized phone on contract you can still join a Framily plans but you’ll have to pay an additional $15 a month until your contract is up.

Of course, those prices are dependent on all members sticking with the plan, and Sprint has framed the program in such away that customers become active recruiters for Sprint’s network. From the moment one customer signs up for the Framily program he or she has 14 days to join another group’s plan or start a separate group and recruit their own members. Once a “Framily” is established, members can join and leave as they please, though that will obviously effect the collective discount.

A $5-$30 a month discount is a big enticement to bug your friends and family members to join, and the end result is Sprint could attract a lot more customer. It’s rather ingenious really.

Sprint also announced that it’s adding six new markets to its Spark LTE network: Austin, Dallas, Fort Worth, Houston and San Antonio, Texas; and Fort Lauderdale, Fla. Sprint’s Spark network is still small, working in 11 cities total, but in Texas at least, it’s got a decent-sized network.

Correction: An earlier version of this post incorrectly stated Framily plan members had 14 days to form their groups. A new Framily participant has 14 days to decide whether to join an existing group or found a new one. Once a group is formed members can join and leave at will.