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Sprint, T-Mobile Heat Up Plan Rivalry For Summer

NEW YORK – Carrier competition heated up heading into summer with the launch of new marketing initiatives by T-Mobile and Sprint, including T-Mobile’s introduction of a program that lets consumers trade in a phone for a new one up to three times per year.

For its part, Sprint criticized what it called rivals’ confusing advertising and rate plans with the launch of an $80 All-In plan, which bundles the lease of select phones with unlimited talk, text and LTE data.

Also to win share, Sprint rolled out its Direct 2 You service to more markets. Under the program, Sprint representatives go to a customer’s home, office, or other location for free to deliver and set up phones, transfer content, and personalize settings.

Here’s what the carriers announced:

T-Mobile: The carrier kicked off the first in a planned series of marketing initiatives by launching its JUMP On Demand trade-in program and criticized its rivals’ more restrictive trade-in policies. The program entitles consumers to a new phone up to three times per year, though only if they agree to an 18-month phone lease with no money down.

The carrier said its most popular smartphones will be available with JUMP On Demand, including.

After 18 months, customers turn in their latest phone and make no more payments, or they lease a new phone and start a new plan. They can also make a final payment and own the phone. With the final payment, the consumer’s total payments will equal the retail price of the phone, T-Mobile contended.

T-Mobile contended that its customers could get six new phones during the time it takes to get one upgrade from Verizon.

The new program started June 28 in participating T-Mobile-branded stores, but the carrier said it plans over time to offer it through other retailers

Sprint: The carrier is bundling the lease of select phones with unlimited talk, text and LTE data at $80 through a program available only in Sprint-branded stores. The carrier declined to say whether the plan will be rolled out to other retailers.

“All-In Wireless counters the wireless industry’s current way of advertising by providing one clear monthly price for a smartphone and unlimited talk, text and high-speed data,” said Sprint. Consumers should “not be fooled by advertising gimmicks that only list the price of a phone or the price of a service plan, making it difficult to understand the full story,” the company contended.

Sprint enlisted soccer star David Beckham to promote the plan in a series of TV commercials.

Under Sprint’s plan, consumers pay $20 per month for 24 months to lease a popular smartphone, including iPhone 6, Samsung Galaxy S6, HTC One M9 and LG G4. Consumers pay another $60 per month for unlimited text, talk and LTE data. The prices exclude taxes and surcharges.

When the lease expires, consumer can lease another phone.

To get these and other Sprint phones in the hands of more users, Sprint expanded its Direct 2 You service to the New York, Los Angeles, San Francisco and Denver metro areas.