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Carrier Competition Heats Up For Holiday

Carriers poured gasoline on the competitive flames to steal subscribers and grab market share in the weeks before Christmas.

For consumers who switch, Sprint is offering 50 percent off almost all of the current postpaid-rate plans published by Verizon, AT&T and T-Mobile. T-Mobile is luring Sprint subscribers to its network by offering them a $200 bill credit for every line they bring from Sprint. And MetroPCS launched Music Unlimited music- streaming program to let many subscribers stream unlimited amounts of music from 33 services without the data counting against their 4G LTE data caps.

For its part, AT&T rolled out the 18.4-inch Samsung Galaxy View tablet with special pricing for new and current DirecTV subscribers. AT&T recently bought DirecTV.

To top it off, MetroPCS is adding more data to select LTE data plans.

Here’s what the companies are doing:

AT&T: The company became the first carrier to offer an LTE-equipped version of Samsung’s 18.4-inch 1080p Galaxy View Android tablet, enabling on-the-go viewing of more than 100 DirecTV channels for DirecTV subscribers.

The carrier is also offering special pricing to new DirecTV subscribers. For a limited time, consumers who sign up for a new 24-month DirecTV account get the View for $99 with two-year contract. Also, existing DirecTV subscribers who activate a new smartphone line on an AT&T Next installment-payment plan get the View for $99 with a two-year agreement.

The View tablet normally would go for $499 with two-year contract or $30/month for 20 months with an installment plan.

MetroPCS: The T-Mobile prepaid service lets subscribers stream unlimited amounts of music from 33 services without the data counting against their 4G LTE data caps. The offer is available to subscribers whose plans include 3GB or more of LTE data. The brand promises to expand the selection of eligible music services.

Also like its parent, MetroPCS launched Data Maximizer technology, which uses the same technology as T-Mobile’s Binge On service, to let subscribers fill their LTE data buckets with three times more video than before. Almost all video services — including YouTube, Netflix and Periscope feeds – can be streamed more efficiently. The technology caps resolution at DVD or better while reducing data “overhead.” The service can be switched off by consumers to maximize video quality for mirroring on a connected TV.

In other data-related initiatives, MetroPCS added 1GB of LTE data to select LTE data plans at no extra charge. The prepaid brand also boosted mobile hotspot tethering on its Unlimited 4G LTE plan to 8GB from 6GB.

Sprint: CEO Marcelo Claure called it “the biggest wireless offer in U.S. history.”

To consumers who switch to Sprint, Claure is offering 50 percent off the published rates of almost all current postpaid-rate plans offered by Verizon, AT&T and T-Mobile. Customers who switch from prepaid-service brands Cricket and MetroPCS also save 50 percent off the postpaid rates of the brands’ parent carriers, AT&T and T-Mobile.

Sprint wants to “persuade American consumers to give us a try” to experience upgraded network reliability and speed, Claure said, particularly in 77 major markets where capacity and peak network speeds have doubled to exceed 100Mbps on 13 currently supported devices, including the iPhone 6s.

The offer is good for new subscribers who sign up through Jan. 7. Consumers who switch during that time get 28 days to try out Sprint service, and if not satisfied, they can return their device without paying a restocking fee.

Consumers who switch keep the new rates for a minimum of two year or longer, Claure said. The offer is available through Sprint stores.

T-Mobile: The carrier is giving a $200 bill credit to Sprint custmers who switch. No phone trade-in is required. Consumers are eligible if use Sprint-brand service or Sprint’s Boost and Virgin Mobile prepaid service.

That’s on top of T-Mobile’s Carrier Freedom offer, which gives consumers up to $650 or more per line to cover Sprint’s early termination fees or the balance owed on a Sprint phone plan. A trade-in is required.