T-Mobile offers first responder agencies free unlimited service for 10 years

first responders
The Connecting Heroes initiative was first announced in November as one of several commitments made by T-Mobile working toward its merger with Sprint. (Getty Images)

T-Mobile today launched its “Connecting Heroes” program, offering free unlimited mobile service, including 5G, to first responder agencies nationwide in a 10-year commitment.

The initiative is open to all public and non-profit state and local agencies that provide police, fire or EMT services.

The plan includes unlimited smartphone talk, text, and data, including 5G access, with 1 GB of 4G LTE mobile hotspot with 3G speeds after that limit is reached. It also includes Mobile without Boarders and video streaming at DVD quality (480p).  Unlimited talk and text only apply to direct communications between two people, while things like conference and chat lines may cost extra.

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In announcing the launch on Twitter, T-Mobile CEO Mike Sievert said if every agency across the country signs up it would put $7.7 billion back into first responder budgets over the 10-year commitment.

RELATED: T-Mobile ponies up 5G commitments for first responders

“This is not some temporary thing or for the duration of the COVID crisis, this is our commitment for the next decade – free service for every state and local, non-profit and public first responder agency, on us, no strings attached,” said Sievert, who recently took the helm of the new T-Mobile following the departure of former chief executive John Legere. “This is an example of what we meant when we said we had plans to use 5G for good last fall.”

The Connecting Heroes initiative was first announced in November as one of several commitments made by T-Mobile as it successfully worked to gain approval for its merger with Sprint, which closed April 1. In its original pledge last fall, executives said first responders would have preemption and there would be no data caps, no throttling and no deprioritization.

At the time, industry analyst Roger Entner of Recon Analytics said AT&T and Verizon clearly were in T-Mobile’s crosshairs. No first responders to speak of were using T-Mobile before that, so there was no cannibalization to be had there, but it would cause a lot of disruption for Verizon and AT&T, he said.

Verizon has historically dominated the public safety market while AT&T is building out the dedicated FirstNet public safety communications network and at the end of March counted more than 1.3 million connections across 12,000 public safety agencies.

In conjunction with the first responder announcement, T-Mobile said it expanded 5G service to San Francisco and Sacramento, and new 5G sites are live in Tampa and Orlando. T-Mobile’s low-band 5G now covers nearly 6,000 cities and towns and more than 225 million Americans.

A final bit in the latest “un-carrier” move, T-Mobile this weekend will offer T-Mobile and Sprint postpaid customers a new iPhone SE for free via bill credits or $500 off a different flagship smartphone with eligible trade-ins.

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