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Carriers know you want to upgrade your phone more than once every two years. Sprint, after offering an easy way to make this happen for a few months, has apparently changed its mind.

In September, Sprint offered its early upgrade plan, called One Up, matching similar plans already offered by its big three competitors. But, as of last Thursday, Sprint suddenly “retired” the One Up plan.

The old plan allowed customers to upgrade to a new smartphone after paying just 12 of 24 monthly payments (with no down payment). In addition, they would receive a $15 discount on Sprint’s Unlimited service plans. Now, customers are being encouraged to move to the new Sprint Framily Plan (yes, it’s really called the Framily plan), out last week, which offers customers discounts in groups of up to ten family members or friends, with bigger discounts going to bigger groups.

Why Yank It?

The early upgrade craze had been sparked by T-Mobile, and followed by AT&T and Verizon Wireless. Why would Sprint suddenly yank the plan, especially since it was beginning to get noticed as a fairly good deal?

Roni Singleton, Sprint’s National Media Manager for Corporate Communications, didn’t exactly answer the question. Instead, she told VentureBeat that the Framily Plan “offers our customers even greater value” than One Up so that each family member or friend can “customize his or her plan to meet their own individual needs.” She pointed out that Framily customers still have an upgrade option for an additional $20 monthly fee, which provides “unlimited data plus the ability to upgrade their device every 12 months.”

Current Analysis market analyst Wes Henderek told us that Sprint may have felt One Up presented “customers with too many options” and too much complexity, especially since, as Sprint pointed out, there are already upgrade options on other plans offered by the company.

Henderek conceded, however, that saying a cell phone plan is complex is itself redundant.

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