Sprint (NYSE:S) today announced an impressive sales offer through Best Buy that essentially gives students free wireless service for a year. The offer, available through Jan. 4, is only available to students who purchase their phone through Best Buy, and it provides unlimited talk, text and 1 GB of data for 12 months.
The offer is an attempt by Sprint to ratchet up its subscriber additions through the critical fourth quarter holiday shopping season. Although the offer won't generate much in the way of revenues for Sprint initially, it could help the carrier generate momentum among the student segment of the market. Importantly, the promotion also includes a referral component that is designed to encourage students to add their friends to Sprint's service.
"We are excited about this groundbreaking approach to helping students connect to the latest wireless technology and to the advantages of today's mobile learning environment," said Jeff Hallock, senior vice president of marketing for Sprint. "As a market leader in consumer electronics committed to improving the customer experience and to lessening its impact on the environment, Best Buy is a perfect partner for Sprint in revolutionizing the way we bring new products and services to students."
A Best Buy executive noted to promotion aligns with the company's attempts to bring exclusive offerings to its customers. Best Buy in the past has worked to offer exclusive phones through its Best Buy Mobile storefront, and Sprint's new student promotion represents one of Best Buy's exclusive wireless service plans.
To obtain the offer, customers must first prove they meet Sprint's requirements for being a student, for example with a current student ID. Then they must purchase one of the two dozen or so phones Best Buy is selling for the program. Importantly, the phones are not subsidized: For example, the 16 GB iPhone 5s costs $699. (Best Buy is offering an 18-month financing plan for the phone purchase.) Customers must then pay a one-time $36 activation fee and monthly taxes and surcharges, and must sign up for Sprint's Unlimited, My Way plan. The promotion does not require a two-year service contract.
Customers can then access Sprint's network, including its LTE network, for unlimited calling and texting and 1 GB of data for free for a year--Sprint typically charges $70 per month for such service. Customers can upgrade to Sprint's unlimited data service for an extra $10 per month.
The promotion could help Sprint reverse its customer losses. Sprint reported a total loss of 313,000 wireless customers in the third quarter, compared to a loss of 423,000 in the year-ago period. The losses included a troubling loss of 360,000 Sprint postpaid customers, which is higher than Sprint said it wanted.
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