Sprint’s latest attempt to grow its subscriber base through a new “cut your bill in half” promotion sparked yet another war of words with long-term rival T-Mobile US.
Marcelo Claure, Sprint’s CEO, announced the new initiative yesterday, promising new customers a 50 per cent discount on deals offered by Verizon, AT&T or T-Mobile US when they switch to Sprint by 7 January. New customers will also receive a $650 gift card to pay existing fees it may owe their current providers.
The move is reminiscent of a similar deal offered by Sprint last year that targeted AT&T and Verizon customers, only this time Sprint and Claure have also taken aim at T-Mobile US, the company that overtook it as the US’ third largest provider by subscribers earlier this year.
It also only applies to discounts to current plans offered by rival operators, and not a discount on what each separate customer is currently paying.
In the face of increased competition from T-Mobile US, among other factors, Sprint has lost millions of customers over the last few years, as it embarked on a network overhaul, and has only just started to see a recovery. It is going through a $2.5 billion cost reduction plan, a move that will involve job cuts.
Claure hailed the aggressive move as testament to the company’s improved network service. “We’ve made tremendous strides with our network because we know consumers want wireless service that provides constant speed and reliability.”
Legere, however was not impressed. He took to Twitter to directly denounce his main competitor’s offering, urging consumers to read the fine print.
Two standout points show that the 50 per cent saving doesn’t apply to unlimited plans, including T-Mobile’s $95 unlimited plan that offers free video streaming on a dozen services, and Sprint’s terms suggest it will only honour reduced plans until January 2018.
He proceeded to goad his rival’s current predicament. “Did we just witness the beginning of the end for Sprint? $2.5 billion to cut, laying off people and now price cuts?”
Claure, however, did not take the jibes lying down. Commenting on T-Mobile US’ unlimited free BingeOn video streaming offer, announced last week, Claure said the “only thing going up at T-Mobile are the prices, what’s going down is your quality of service. BingeOn? More like Cringeon”.
Following the announcement, some existing Sprint customers also took to Twitter to hit out at the plans. The offer doesn’t apply to those already on a Sprint plan, but the company said it will give out a free tablet with one year of free service on a two year contract.
With Verizon and AT&T firmly occupying the top two positions in the US, T-Mobile US and Sprint continue to battle it out for third spot. As of earlier this month, Sprint had 57.87 million customers compared to T-Mobile US’ 61.2 million.