Verizon, Sprint tweak holiday promotions

Holiday online shopping
The fourth quarter remains a critical period for the wireless industry due to the holidays. (Makidotvn)

Although the nation’s wireless network operators haven’t shown much inclination to battle each other with steep service and phone price cuts this holiday shopping season, that doesn’t mean they’re standing still. Specifically, both Verizon and Sprint this week introduced noteworthy promotions aimed at spicing up their respective offerings.

First, Sprint announced new customers can sign up for its Unlimited Basic service plan and can get lines three, four and five for free. “That means new Unlimited Basic customers will pay just $20 per month per line for five lines,” the carrier said in a release.

Also this week, as noted by Wave7 Research, Verizon discontinued a promotion targeting phone trade-ins and replaced it with a buy one, get one free offer. Specifically, the carrier is offering buy one, get one on top iPhones, LG phones and the new Google Pixel phones that runs up to $750 off the second device. However, the offer is contingent on customers adding a new line of service.

“There is still no consensus on promo tactics,” Wave7 wrote in a recent report, noting that some carriers are focusing on BOGOs while others are focusing on trade-in offers. “That said, there is little activity around plan pricing, with phone discounts of varying stripes dominating holiday competition.”

To be clear, Verizon and Sprint aren’t the only carriers looking to make waves during the critical fourth-quarter holiday shopping season. For example, one of T-Mobile’s recent promotions offered a free Samsung 4K UHD Smart TV for free to customers who purchase a new Samsung flagship smartphone.

Many analysts have noted that the competitive intensity in the wireless industry has slowed somewhat compared with previous years—indeed, as a result, wireless operators’ service revenues have generally reached positive levels in recent months, for the first time in years.

Nonetheless, top executives continue to point to competition in the space: “I've been in this industry a long time and it is always intensely competitive. And particularly when you're around the holiday season, it feels intensely competitive,” AT&T’s Randall Stephenson said recently at an investor conference, according to a Seeking Alpha transcript of his remarks. “But the competition tends to be more promotional in nature and people putting buy one, get one free promotions and handset promotions and that type of thing. And so, you're having that play out in the market right now significantly.”