Sprint is offering an aggressive deal: a free year of ‘unlimited’ data for people who switch from Verizon, AT&T, or T-Mobile

Sprint has quietly launched what may be its most aggressive promotion yet.

The carrier said on Tuesday that it would give select customers who switch from Verizon, AT&T, or T-Mobile a free year of its “unlimited” data plan for a limited time.

According to a page for the promotion on Sprint’s website, the deal will last until June 30. Sprint says there’s no requirement to change numbers, and that it will let up to five lines switch over at once.

You’ll have to pay a $US30 activation fee upfront, but Sprint says it will repay that within two billing cycles. There are a couple other fees required beyond that, but they only amount to a couple bucks a month. You’ll also have to cover the $US13 or so it costs to get a Sprint SIM card, though.

From there, you’re on Sprint’s “unlimited” plan, which, like all of its peers, isn’t truly unlimited. Most of what you’d do is left alone, and you can stream video up to a 1080p resolution, but LTE mobile hotspot data is capped at 10 GB a month per line (you’re bumped down to 2G speeds after that), and your speeds may be temporarily slowed in congested areas if you use more than 23 GB in a given month.

Because this is still a mobile carrier we’re talking about, there are a few other caveats to the promotion:

  • It only applies to those who are new to Sprint.
  • Only some phones are eligible for the upgrade. You can check Sprint’s promo page for a full list, but it boils down to every iPhone since the iPhone 5C, recent Google Nexus and Pixel phones, a few Moto phones, and “special edition” Samsung Galaxy S7 and Galaxy S8 phones.
  • Sprint says you have to own the phone in the first place. So the promotion is a no-go if you’re in the middle of a monthly instalment plan.
  • The phone must be unlocked and work on Sprint’s network. A handful of the iPhone options will only be eligible if you’re switching from Verizon because of this.
  • If you take up the offer and upgrade to a new phone before October 1, you’ll lose the free service, and will have to pay for Sprint’s unlimited plan like any other customer. After October 1, you can switch to a new phone and keep the discounted plan for the rest of the year.
  • You have to enroll in auto-pay billing.
  • The deal isn’t eligible to those switching from an MVNO like Cricket Wireless or MetroPCS.

If you can wade through all of that, Sprint says the discounted service will last until July 31, 2018. After that, you’ll have to pay $US60 a month for one line, $US40 a month for a second, then $US30 a month for additional lines. Sprint says there’s no requirement to pay for service once your discounted year is up; its hope is that you’ll be coerced to stick around regardless, in part because its unlimited plan is the most affordable of the big four.

John legere t mobile
T-Mobile CEO John Legere has pushed his company well past Sprint in recent years. David Becker/Getty Images

Sprint sits firmly in fourth place among the major mobile carriers in the US in terms of total subscribers. Verizon and AT&T have faced declining growth as of late, but still have big bases of subscribers to sell to. T-Mobile, meanwhile, has surged in recent years on the back of aggressive discounts and marketing, passing Sprint along the way. Sprint’s network continues to be seen as lagging behind its peers, too.

Rumours of a potential T-Mobile-Sprint merger persist, but as it is now, Sprint seems to be feeling the heat to get more subscribers onboard.

At first blush, it also seems as if Sprint is taking a loss with the promotion. But a company spokesperson told Business Insider that the deal is only available online, not in retail stores, and that it’s only advertising the promotion through cheaper digital channels. The company also asserted that its network has the capacity to handle any spike in subscribers the deal might cause.

Regardless of Sprint’s issues, the deal mostly appears to be sound for those looking for a bargain. Just make sure Sprint’s service is acceptable in your area if you decide to take the plunge.

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