T-Mobile is taking the gloves off – if they were ever on – in its fight for prepaid customers. Today, the company announced that Metro by T-Mobile is offering a $25/month plan to entice Boost and Cricket customers over to its 5G network. The offer starts July 29.
T-Mobile said there are no switching fees for customers who “ditch Boost, Cricket and others” in favor of T-Mobile’s data plan with unlimited 5G. The offer includes a free 5G phone.
“Our smartphones are our lifelines, and yet a generation of prepaid customers are being left behind in the 5G era by providers and plans that keep them locked on old technology and slow, over-priced connections. If Cricket or Boost won’t upgrade their customers to 5G, Metro by T-Mobile sure will,” said Jon Freier, EVP, T-Mobile Consumer Group, in a statement. “At Metro by T-Mobile, we put customers first. The biggest 5G network at half the price of Boost or Cricket, unlimited data with 5G included AND a free 5G phone? Talk about an easy upgrade.”
Cricket is the prepaid brand that AT&T acquired with its purchase of Leap Wireless back in 2014. Metro by T-Mobile traces its roots back to MetroPCS, which T-Mobile acquired in 2013; that acquisition was often held up as a model for T-Mobile’s merger with Sprint.
Besides Cricket, T-Mobile, in its press release, also takes a stab at Boost, without saying anything about the fact that T-Mobile was set to provide the network for Boost customers under a temporary MVNO agreement, which was an enabler in the T-Mobile/Sprint merger.
Long story short, after T-Mobile informed Boost owner Dish Network that the old Sprint CDMA network will be shutting down in January 2022, Dish Chairman Charlie Ergen called T-Mobile the magenta Grinch and it was game on. Since then, Dish found a new MVNO partner in AT&T, and while the ink is barely dry on that deal, T-Mobile is harping on Boost’s “old technology.”
“When you switch to Metro, you don’t get left behind,” according to T-Mobile. “Boost and Cricket continue to charge premiums for 5G devices and 5G service, with capped data plans, 5G on only the most expensive plan and slower and smaller 5G networks. Millions of prepaid customers still have old devices that don’t even access last year’s technology, and some on Boost are on technology from a decade ago. Switch to Metro and get unlimited 5G access on T-Mobile's 5G network … now, at half off your Boost or Cricket wireless service.”
It's an aggressive offer, said Wave7 Research principal Jeff Moore. Metro by T-Mobile has been running an offer for $40 per month for switchers, so $25/month is “fairly aggressive.” What’s not so different is a free 5G phone.
“The idea that a free 5G phone offer is new, that is not at all in line with reality,” he said. Earlier this month, Wave7 reported on how four free 5G phones were being offered to switchers.
It’s also an “exploding offer,” he said, in that it ends after two years and the price goes back up to a higher rate. That’s not unusual in telecom, as a lot of offers promise a great price for a limited time and the bill goes up after that, but “it’s something to be aware of.”
Consolidation in prepaid
Never one to endure a dull moment, the prepaid space is undergoing more change as Verizon seeks regulatory approval of its nearly $7 billion acquisition of TracFone, which is owned by América Móvil. Public interest groups and some lawmakers are asking the FCC to impose conditions to protect Lifeline customers who rely on TracFone for subsidized wireless services.
Last year, Metro by T-Mobile dealers took to Twitter to complain about conditions that were being imposed on their businesses after T-Mobile finalized its merger with Sprint. At one point, dealers were told they could sell only Metro by T-Mobile rather than other brands alongside Metro if they wanted to continue selling the service.