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Sprint Goes on the Offensive

Looking to goose subscriber counts and keep existing customers on board, Sprint hatched a promo that will offer subs from rivals AT&T, T-Mobile and Verizon Wireless 50% off their plans if they switch to Sprint, while also offering free tablets paired with a year of cellular service to current subs.

Sprint said it will also pay fees up to $650 per line (via an American Express Rewards Card) to anyone who makes the switch.  Anyone who takes Sprint up on the offer also has the option to switch back within 28 days and return the device for free (no restocking fee) with “no questions asked,” Sprint CEO Marcelo Claure said Wednesday on a call with reporters.

Those customers aren’t required to turn in their existing phone, but, if they do, they can apply the trade-in dollars toward a new device from Sprint.

The offer kicks off Friday (November 20) and is good through Jan. 7, 2016. By way of example, he said T-Mobile customers on a $50 per month 2GB plan can get the same from Sprint for $25.

“We believe it’s a great offer, and gives them [prospective customers] a chance to give us a try,” he said, noting that the promo aims to give those consumers ample time to kick the tires on Sprint’s upgraded wireless 4G network, which the exec acknowledged has been viewed with “a lot of skepticism.”

As for that network, Sprint said its LTE Plus network is now up in 77 major markets, and taps into the carrier’s “triband” spectrum portfolio.

Claure was also pressed on how Sprint’s promo, which includes the free tablet offer to existing subs, makes good business sense, especially as the company looks to chop  up to $2.5 billion in costs. Claure responded that the wireless carrier’s financial analysis of it showed that it will be able to grow its sub base and that the deals will be accretive to tis overall financial performance.

“This is well planned...and is well executed,” he said.

According to the fine print for Sprint’s tablet offer (while supplies last) does require a two-year contract. Sprint estimates that it’s a $360 value, and is an offer that will resonate with consumers during the holiday buying season.

Sprint’s promo comes the week after T-Mobile introduced new data plans and Binge On, an option that zero-rates video streamed from partners such as Sling TV that uses proprietary compression technology that delivers video at 480p (DVD quality).

Claure said “we always look at what our competitors are doing” when asked if the promo was in response to T-Mobile, adding later that he didn’t think consumers are “too excited” about watching video at 480p instead of HD.

T-Mobile CEO John Legere was predictably unimpressed with Sprint’s promo, poking holes in it via a series of tweets.  An example:  “@TMobile customers get Unlimited video streaming w/ their plans. Not on @Sprint. #SprintCountdown #halfoffthetruth,” the T-Mobile exec wrote.