T-Mobile US (NYSE:TMUS) took a hearty stab at Sprint (as well as Verizon Wireless and AT&T Mobility) with a new referral reward program that will give any customer on its Simple Choice plans unlimited LTE data for a year if they bring a new customer to T-Mobile. For those Simple Choice customers who already have unlimited data, T-Mobile said it will give them a $10-per-month credit for a year.
"Rescuing a Sprint (or Verizon or AT&T or other) customer is simple," T-Mobile wrote in its announcement. "Starting next Friday, August 29th, T-Mobile customers just report their good deed at www.t-mobile.com/referral. You'll need your T-Mobile number and your friend's number they've ported over. When you report a successful rescue mission within 30 days of your friend's activation with T-Mobile, the unlimited LTE data service or bill credit for both of you will start that month."
In its announcement, T-Mobile took direct aim at beleaguered Sprint, blasting the shared data plan the carrier announced earlier this week.
"Sprint's customers have suffered much. They've endured the Framily. They've endured America's slowest nationwide LTE network. And now again, the (ironically named) carrier has forsaken its loyal customers, offering its latest, 'best deals' to everyone but its own current customers. It's hard to watch," T-Mobile wrote in the first paragraph of its press release.
A Sprint representative did not directly comment on T-Mobile's announcement, but pointed to Sprint's new $60 unlimited everything plan as a response. That plan is available to new and existing customers.
Under Sprint's new family plans, called Family Share Pack and available starting Aug. 22, customers can buy a subsidized smartphone with a two-year contract and are charged $40 per month per line. If customers purchase their phones in installments with Sprint's Easy Pay upgrade program, the access charge for smartphones is $25 per month for plans with less than 20 GB of data, and $15 per month for plans with 20 GB or more. Sprint is also waiving the data access charge for handsets, tablets and mobile broadband devices on 20 GB or higher data allowances for up to 10 lines through the end of 2015, but that is only available to customers who are switching their number from another carrier to Sprint.
The new plans from Sprint are the carrier's first moves since CEO Marcelo Claure took over the helm from Dan Hesse. They are also the operator's first strategic moves after it reportedly ended its efforts to acquire T-Mobile.
In a blog post announcing T-Mobile's latest referral program, CEO John Legere pulled no punches. "These guys just don't get it," Legere wrote of Sprint and other carriers. "You can't ignore your customers, and you can't slash your way to growth. You can't innovate by rolling out lame knock-offs of our Uncarrier moves while giving customers more of the same old, same old. I mean, these guys just keep botching it up so miserably."
Legere specifically took issue with Sprint's pricing that is only available for customers who are switching to the carrier from a rival. He also blasted AT&T's Next handset upgrade program pricing, which was initially priced the same as its plans for subsidized smartphones (AT&T has since lowered its Next pricing). Legere lambasted Sprint's network, including its Spark service, which he said isn't as fast as T-Mobile's LTE network in locations including New York City, Los Angeles, Chicago, Houston and elsewhere. "And we have 70% more network spectrum per customer than even Verizon," Legere wrote.
T-Mobile's "uncarrier" moves have been notably successful during the past year. In the second quarter, T-Mobile said it added 1.47 million total net new subscribers in the second quarter, including 908,000 branded postpaid net adds. While T-Mobile didn't report quite as many postpaid net adds in the period as Verizon, it did have more total new subscriber additions and it showed strong growth in phone subscriber additions.
And T-Mobile said it now expects to add between 3 million and 3.5 million branded postpaid net subscribers in 2014, up from its previous estimate between 2.8 million and 3.3 million.
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