T-Mobile roiled competition to open holiday season, says Wave7 Research

Intercarrier competition hasn’t eased up since Black Friday, when T-Mobile threw down the gauntlet with a $200 switcher deal, analyst firm Wave7 reports.

T-Mobile “derailed” what looked to be a fairly placid Black Friday, forcing rival carriers to respond and ratcheting up competition to enter the all-important holiday season, Wave7 Research reported.

The nation’s third-largest mobile operator jumpstarted the shopping season a week early with a three-day campaign offering a free Samsung Galaxy S7 to users who traded in some older devices. That promotion prompted Verizon to respond with a similar deal, and Sprint followed with an offer of five compressed unlimited lines for $100 a month.

And the competition hasn’t eased up much in December, Wave7 reported.

“T-Mobile’s Black Friday $200 switcher offer ($800 for four, per store signage) continues and is now T-Mobile’s dominant promotion,” the firm said. “This is particularly true since four lines of T-Mobile One is now priced at $160 with autopay or $180 without it. T-Mobile’s tablet offers have been pulled, setting the stage for a pre-Christmas push that could include free lines of T-Mobile One and free tablets.”

Meanwhile, Sprint’s offer of five lines for $100 a month remains, and Verizon is maintaining significant discounts on high-end phones including the iPhone 6 Plus and Samsung’s Galaxy S7 Edge. AT&T is also running several noteworthy promotions, although its offer of a $200 trade-in credit with the purchase of the LG V20 ended last month after a six-week run.

And while limited supplies of high-end smartphones with oversized screens continue to dampen the market, a glimmer of hope has emerged for shoppers looking for larger devices, Wave7 observed. “The phablet shortage continues, given dicey iPhone 7 Plus supplies, the paucity of Note devices, tight LG V20 inventory, and Pixel XL ship dates that are mostly in January,” the firm wrote. “However, most SKUs of the iPhone 7 Plus are now in stock or nearly online, so there may be light at the end of the tunnel.”