Sprint once again vows to halve your smartphone bill if you switch

The promotion targeting customers at rivals AT&T, Verizon and T-Mobile is similar to a campaign offered a year ago.

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Roger Cheng (he/him/his) was the executive editor in charge of CNET News, managing everything from daily breaking news to in-depth investigative packages. Prior to this, he was on the telecommunications beat and wrote for Dow Jones Newswires and The Wall Street Journal for nearly a decade and got his start writing and laying out pages at a local paper in Southern California. He's a devoted Trojan alum and thinks sleep is the perfect -- if unattainable -- hobby for a parent.
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Roger Cheng
3 min read

Sprint is trying to win over consumers and win back former customers.


Sprint will match its rivals' current rate plans and offer a 50 percent discount in a new promotion unveiled Wednesday.

The program, similar to one Sprint launched a year ago and beginning on Friday, applies to customers switching from Verizon, AT&T or T-Mobile. The 50 percent discount applies to advertised rates for "most plans," Sprint said. The company had been teasing a "big reveal" with a countdown clock over the past day.

The offer is the latest promotion in the highly competitive wireless industry. The jockeying for subscribers has resulted in better perks and deals for consumers willing to shop around. Sprint, the nation's fourth-largest wireless carrier with a long history of customer defections, knows it must be aggressive during the critical holiday-shopping season when smartphone sales spike.

If Sprint's deal sounds familiar, that's because the carrier introduced a similar promotion called "cut your bill in half" for AT&T and Verizon customers last December. But Sprint CEO Marcelo Claure said the new program adds T-Mobile in the mix and offers a more straightforward deal.

"This is very different than 'cut your bill,'" Claure said on a conference call. "This is simple and easy to communicate, and you see real savings."

The 50 percent savings doesn't apply to T-Mobile's unlimited data plan. It does, however, apply to advertised rates for MetroPCS, owned by T-Mobile, and Cricket Wireless, owned by AT&T. The carrier is also doubling its trial period to 28 days.

With these new offers, Sprint will create specific plans to match each carrier. T-Mobile customers, for instance, will get individual data plans at half the rate, while AT&T and Verizon customers will get shared buckets of data. And a T-Mobile customer switching to Sprint is only eligible for the T-Mobile rates, although that customer can add or decrease the amount of data he or she buys. The same goes for Verizon and AT&T customers.

"Anytime you can offer the service that all Americans have, and get 50 percent off, that's a great deal," Claure said.

Sprint's promotion ends January 7 and customers are required to port over their existing phone numbers. The company said the savings runs through January 8, 2018.

Sprint also said it would pay up to $650 per line for someone still under contract who wants to switch. Under the previous promotion, that offer was $350. Customers don't have to turn in their existing phones to the carrier, although they can for additional credit.

Sprint's news comes on the heels of last week's Uncarrier event held by T-Mobile, which leapfrogged Sprint to become the nation's third-largest carrier in August. T-Mobile will let some customers stream videos without eating into their data caps, the carrier said at its event.

Not every carrier move is about saving consumers' money. T-Mobile also has quietly raised the prices of its plans for new individual line customers. AT&T has a promotion offering twice as much data as before, but the prices remain steady. Verizon on Sunday brought back activation fees on devices and has raised its rates on customers with grandfathered unlimited plans.

Claure tweeted Wednesday existing customers will get a reward in the form of a free tablet and one year of free service on that device "while supplies last." According to Sprint, the tablet is the Alcatel OneTouch Pixi. Claure said he is betting that customers continue to use the service after the free year is up.

T-Mobile CEO John Legere, never shy to share his opinion, tweeted his reaction to the promotion: "Did we just witness beginning of the end for @sprint? $2.5B to cut, laying people off, now price cuts? The countdown clock makes sense now!"

Verizon declined to comment. AT&T couldn't be reached for comment.

Updated at 10:11 a.m. PT and 10:30 a.m. PT: To include additional details on the program and response.