Free phones are often dangled in front of consumers to get them to sign up for a wireless carrier’s phone plan. Free TVs aren’t usually included in the deal.
But last month, T-Mobile announced that for a limited time – which ended this week – it would give new customers to its 5G Home Internet service a free Amazon Fire TV 50-inch 4-Series 4K smart TV, a $450 value, after two months of service.
5G Home Internet is a fixed wireless access (FWA) service; the company vets which FWA customers it will serve based on available capacity.
The offer was only online and expired November 29. Eligible customers who signed up for T-Mobile Home Internet online between November 24 and November 29 have 30 days from sign-up to claim the offer. Cord Cutters News posted the terms and conditions here.
It’s unknown how many people acted on the offer. A T-Mobile spokesperson told Fierce the company doesn’t share that information.
To be clear, customers don’t actually get the TV right away. About two months after eligible customers submit for the promo, they should receive an e-mail to redeem the offer, according to the T-Mobile spokesperson.
Deal or no deal
Is it a good deal? According to TechRadar, the Amazon Fire TV 50-inch 4-Series 4K smart TV is one of the best-selling TVs on Amazon and remained one of the best post-Cyber Monday TV deals out there. The TV was available online at Amazon and Best Buy this week for $309.99.
Recon Analytics founder Roger Entner equated the give-away to the free gift cards that are often included with wireless phone offers and might be worth on the order of $200. The TV in this case is not a high-end model, and Amazon is probably giving T-Mobile a decent price break.
It boils down to how much a customer wants this particular smart TV. In that sense, “would you rather have a TV you don’t want or a $200 gift card you can spend on a TV you do want?,” Entner said.
He also cautioned not to read too much into it. “I wouldn’t call this desperate,” Entner said, adding that this kind of offer usually takes months to prepare. “I think they want to have a really good fourth quarter.”
Hedging their bets
Bill Ho, principal analyst at 556 Ventures, said the two-month wait period is one way T-Mobile is limiting its exposure. The fine print also says the TV can only work on the T-Mobile Gateway for in-home use at the location provided at activation. It’s limited to one TV per account and there’s a $35 connection charge.
If it’s profitable, “we might see it again next year in some form or variation,” Ho said. “A lot of stuff is like a trial balloon. If it’s successful, then they might revisit this in terms of different promotions. The take-away is it’s a 50-inch TV and you get it for free with fixed wireless access. I think that’s pretty competitive for those people who pay attention to the online aspect of it.”
T-Mobile has done a version of this in the past, but it wasn’t for home internet services. In 2018, T-Mobile had a holiday offer where mobile customers could get a free TV from Samsung with the purchase of a Samsung flagship smartphone and other terms.
The big question is how much it will contribute to the fourth quarter’s high-speed internet net additions. T-Mobile added 557,000 high-speed internet customers in Q3 2023. Last year, it added 524,000 high-speed internet customers in the fourth quarter.
Ringing up Q4 2023
Who is offering the most aggressive deals in wireless this year depends in part on who you ask and the metrics that are involved.
Using data from Navi, the investment analyst firm MoffettNathanson analyzed last week’s Black Friday deals among the biggest carriers and noted a sharp increase in promotional intensity aimed at high-end customers, mainly by T-Mobile and Verizon.
AT&T continues to offer “rich discounts” for customers even at the entry level and AT&T is the industry’s most promotional player, the report said, noting that all of the Big 3 carriers face a more vigorous competitor in cable this year.
Recon Analytics polled 7,073 people last weekend and 27% said the best Black Friday/Cyber Monday deals were at Verizon; an equal percentage said the best deals were at T-Mobile. The others break down as such: AT&T with 17%; Metro by T-Mobile at 7%, Xfinity 7%, Spectrum 6% and Mint Mobile 5%.
Of course, anything can happen in the next few weeks. “The holiday selling season is not done yet,” Ho said. “It’s always been Thanksgiving, Black Friday and Cyber Monday,” but there’s still several weeks before Christmas and the last-minute shoppers to consider. “You never know what’s going to happen. They could either extend those things or have new promos come in.”