T-Mobile rolls out Connecting Heroes program with free service for first responder agencies

It's part of a bunch of initiatives the carrier promised to get its merger with Sprint over the line.

Eli Blumenthal Senior Editor
Eli Blumenthal is a senior editor at CNET with a particular focus on covering the latest in the ever-changing worlds of telecom, streaming and sports. He previously worked as a technology reporter at USA Today.
Expertise 5G, mobile networks, wireless carriers, phones, tablets, streaming devices, streaming platforms, mobile and console gaming
Eli Blumenthal
3 min read

T-Mobile is following through on its promise of free service for first responders. 

Graphic by Pixabay/Illustration by CNET

T-Mobile is joining the likes of AT&T and Verizon with new offers for first responders. On Thursday, T-Mobile CEO Mike Sievert announced that the carrier is now offering free service to public and nonprofit state and local fire, police and EMS departments.

First revealed last November, T-Mobile's offer was originally announced as part of a suite of initiatives the carrier was promising to carry out to if its Sprint merger was allowed to go through. With the merger having been completed in April, the carrier is following through. 

As part of the deal emergency agencies will get free unlimited talk, text and data service for 10 years, including 5G , which the carrier claims will save departments more than $7 billion over the next decade. 

Other promises from that November announcement include a lower cost plan, which T-Mobile delivered in March with its $15 Connect plan, and providing 10 million households with children free home internet access for five years. It has yet to fully follow through on the home internet pledge, but the carrier is working with school districts to provide connectivity during the coronavirus pandemic

Unlike AT&T or Verizon's first-responder offers, T-Mobile requires that agencies sign up for the free service as opposed to letting individuals transfer their lines over or claim the discount on their own, though it is making some "special considerations" to allow for those in volunteer organizations to join. Agencies looking to sign up can do so at T-Mobile's Connecting Heroes site

AT&T's recent offer of three free months of its FirstNet service is for individual doctors and nurses, while Verizon recently expanded its discount for emergency personnel to include nurses and teachers without having to be on a special plan. T-Mobile's offer does not include any new discount for doctors, nurses or teachers.

A discounted iPhone SE or Galaxy S20 for T-Mobile and Sprint subscribers


T-Mobile is offering big discounts on the iPhone SE.

Angela Lang/CNET

T-Mobile is, however, offering all postpaid T-Mobile and Sprint subscribers regardless of profession a discounted upgrade to an iPhone SE or Galaxy S20 with an "eligible" trade-in. The deal runs from Friday, May 22, through Monday, May 25. 

There is no need to add a line or change a plan, with Sievert touting the offer as the carrier's "thank you" to those who have changed the way they work and live during the pandemic. 

The device does need to be in good, working condition and owned fully by you and not being currently paid off on a monthly installment or leasing plan. The discount will be applied through either a one-time credit, virtual MasterCard debit card or can be distributed as monthly bill credits, with sales tax still being due. 

Those looking for the 64GB version of Apple's latest phone will be able to get it for free (or up to $400 off a higher storage model) if they trade in one of the following: 

  • Apple: iPhone 11 (only), XR, XS series, X, 8 series, 7 series
  • Samsung: Galaxy S10 Series, Note 10 Series, Galaxy S9 series, Note 9
  • Google: Pixel 4 and XL, Pixel 3 and XL
  • OnePlus: 8, 8 Pro, 7T Pro Mclaren, 7T
  • LG: G8 ThinQ 

Older devices will be able to take $200 off, or half the price of the 64GB model. Eligible phones include: 

  • Apple: iPhone 6 series, 6S series
  • Samsung: GS8 Series, Note 8
  • Google: Pixel 3A and XL
  • OnePlus: 7 Pro, 7, 6T
  • LG: V50 ThinQ, V40 ThinQ, G7 ThinQ

Android fans, meanwhile, will be able to save up to $500 on one of Samsung's new Galaxy S20 5G line of phones or the Galaxy Note 10 Plus 5G. Devices eligible for the $500 discount include: 

  • Apple: iPhone 11, XS, XS Max, XR, X
  • Samsung: Galaxy S9 series, Note 9, S10 series, Note 10, Note 10 Plus, S105G
  • Google: Pixel 3, 3XL, 4, 4XL
  • OnePlus: 7 Pro, 7T, 7T Pro 5G McClaren
  • LG: V60 ThinQ   

The carrier is similarly offering $300 off with trade-in of these phones: 

  • Apple: iPhone 8, 8 Plus, 7, 7 Plus
  • Samsung: Galaxy S8 series, Note 8, S7 series
  • Google: Pixel 3A, 3A XL
  • OnePlus: 6, 6T
  • LG: G8 ThinQ 

And $200 off if you trade-in one of these: 

  • Apple: iPhone 6S, 6S Plus
  • Samsung: Galaxy S6 series, S5 series, Note 5, S4 series
  • Google: Pixel, Pixel XL, Pixel 2, Pixel 2 XL
  • OnePlus: 5, 5T
  • LG: V40 ThinQ, G7

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