Sprint today launched a new promotion offering a full year of free unlimited service to customers willing to switch to the carrier and bring their own device — a move that the Verge said "seems like the ultimate Hail Mary throw of desperation."
Desperate or savvy? Wells Fargo senior analyst Jennifer Fritzsche doesn't see the move as a race to the bottom or a desperate ploy to add subscribers. Sprint is testing an end-to-end digital offer and consumers' receptivity to keeping their devices, which could lead to longer term financial benefits, she said in an analyst note.
The backstory: The wireless business has been increasingly competitive over the last couple of years, with both AT&T and Verizon bringing back unlimited data plans amid pressure from T-Mobile and Sprint. While traditional phone subsidies have gone away, companies have been willing to fork over cash to lure customers from rival networks. A year of free service is a novel twist, though many non-Sprint customers will need a new phone to work on their network. Offering free unlimited service also shows Sprint's confidence that its airwave holdings can support a slew of new bandwidth-hungry customers.