Sprint Targets Verizon Customers With Year of Free Service Offer

  • No. 4 U.S. carrier takes mobile price battle to a new level
  • Verizon customers must bring their own phones to qualify

Sprint Corp. is putting a new twist on mobile-service freebies with a giveaway aimed right at Verizon Communications Inc. customers.

The smallest of the four major U.S. wireless carriers is offering a year of unlimited voice and data service to Verizon customers who bring their own phones. The deal requires a new Sprint SIM card and enrollment in an autopay program. In exchange customers get 10 gigabytes of hotspot access and high-definition video viewing.

The offer expires June 30 and isn’t being advertised. Instead, Sprint is singling out Verizon customers through online promotions and emails offering as many five lines of free unlimited data service for a year, said Dave Tovar, a Sprint spokesman.

Sprint already has the lowest priced unlimited plans starting at $50 for the first line. The latest promotion could set off a new round of price cuts as each of the big carriers continue to slug it out on unlimited data offers.

Saddled with $40 billion in debt and a decade of losses, Sprint’s survival depends on boosting its subscriber numbers, as well as finding a merger partner like T-Mobile US Inc. or a cable company to help turn around its prospects.

Sprint owner SoftBank Group Corp. has had preliminary talks with T-Mobile parent Deutsche Telekom AG about a possible combination. One of the hurdles to the deal would be convincing regulators that wireless consumers would benefit from a three-player market at a time when prices continue to drop in a four-player market.

Competition that drops prices to zero isn’t easy to ignore.

“It’s hard to imagine that regulators will be tempted to imagine anything much better than giving away service for free,” Craig Moffett, an analyst with MoffettNathanson, wrote in a note Tuesday.

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