Rate-plan competition kicked into overdrive with a Sprint promotion offering 50 percent off almost all of the current postpaid-rate plans published by Verizon, AT&T and T-Mobile to consumers who switch to Sprint.
CEO Marcelo Claure called it “the biggest wireless offer in U.S. history” with “no gimmicks, no tricks.”
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 service in those markets has been rebranded as LTE Plus. “We’ve been quiet about our network,” Claure said.
The offer is good for new subscribers who sign up between Nov. 20 and 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.
Customers of prepaid-service brands Cricket and MetroPCS who switch will also save 50 percent off the postpaid rates of their parent companies, AT&T and T-Mobile.
Consumers who sign keep their rates for a minimum of two year or longer, Claure said. The offer is available through Sprint stores.
One proviso is that Sprint won’t include unlimited music and video streaming, data carryover, tethering and Cloud options that other carriers include in their plans.
The promotion differs from a year-ago “cut your rate plan in half” promotion, in part by making the terms simpler, Claure said. “It was messy to execute because we had to view every customers’ bill,” creating “a lot of confusion” because Sprint had to offer “hundreds and hundreds of potential combinations” of plans, he said. In another change, consumers can return their Sprint phone after 28 days with no penalty, and the promotion has been extended to all three wireless competitors, whereas the previous promotion was limited to AT&T and Verizon customers.
In addition, Claure added, Sprint is combining the promotion with an offer to pay up to $650 in early-termination fees and unpaid installment payments.
The discount is available on all competitors’ plans except for T-Mobile’s $99 unlimited plan, which offers unlimited LTE data, voice and text. Sprint’s unlimited plan is already lower at $70.
Network upgrades: Consumes who switch will get a chance to use Sprint’s LTE Plus service in 77 markets where the carrier has rolled out LTE in the 800MHz, 1.9GHz, and 2.5GHz bands. The 1.9GHz band delivers broad coverage, the 800MHz band delivers better in-building coverage, and the 2.5GHz band delivers faster data speeds.
In those markets, the company has also implemented LTE-Advanced technologies like carrier aggregation and beamforming. Sprint is one of the first carriers in the world to roll out carrier aggregation and beamforming, which are elements of LTE Advanced, said CTO John Saw.
Carrier aggregation bonds multiple channels together in Sprint’s 2.5GHz spectrum to build a fatter pipe with double the capacity and speed, he explained. Beamforming directs signals from multiple antennas toward where customers are to meet network demand. That means “while our competitors are sending LTE data meant for a specific customer to everyone in a sector, we are able to transmit more directive beams to exactly where our customers are located,” Saw said.
The combination of carrier aggregation and beamforming gives subscribers “a much improved throughput experience, especially at the cell edges and indoors,” he said.