Sprint's Response to T-Mobile's Free Video Streaming- 50% off Promo! David Dixon of FBR &Co.

On the heels of T-Mobile US’s Un-Carrier X free video streaming  announcement last week to drive sales, this afternoon Sprint announced  a simplified 50% off promotion to help drive higher sales volume,  leveraging the improved network performance post the Network Vision upgrade and optimization.

The previous “Cut Your Bill in Half” promotion was difficult to execute due to grandfathered plans and discount complexities. The new plan is simplified in that it only applies to existing plans and includes a choice to maintain pricing. Management believes over 50% of switching customers will opt for a larger data plan at the same price versus a 50% cut, which should ease profitability concerns.

With LTE Plus now in 77 cities and numerous number one awards in RootMetrics in 2H15 testing (~108 awards),
management is wise to cut price now because perceived network quality remains poor, in our view. Over 50% of the base (and 100% of additions) leverage three spectrum bands (800 MHz, 1.9 GHz, and 2.5  GHz) to deliver higher download speeds. The company is confident the offer will generate sufficient volume to be accretive to earnings.

■ Offer details. The new 50% off promotion will apply to the current base service plan and access charges for any customer who switches from TMUS, T, or VZ and includes payment of up to $650 in early termination fees (which many customers keep despite the credit rating impact).

■ Contractual period. Lower pricing will be for 24 months and run until 2018. Existing Sprint customers can get a free Alcatel ONETOUCH PIXI 7 tablet with one year of free service (either a $15 per month, 1 GB plan or $10 per month Family Share Pack access) with any new two-year contract.

■ Plan exclusions. The promotion excludes the TMUS $90 unlimited plan as the Sprint $70 unlimited plan is already competitive and this would be dilutive.

■ Promotion timing. The promotion starts on November 20 until year end. The “test drive” period will last 28 days, after which the customer can either stay or leave Sprint without incurring restocking fees. ■ Our thoughts. Sprint needs to show greater sales momentum to ease the pace of revenue erosion. We think this should be accretive as incremental growth is high margin. This is a good window to exploit improved network performance post Network Vision upgrade and optimization. Sprint has been slow to pivot to a new network upgrade plan and is cash constrained, so we need to see acceleration in deployment.