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T-Mobile Offers Bounty For Helping Consumers To Switch Carriers

NEW YORK (TheStreet) -- T-Mobile US (TMUS - Get Report) has announced a new plan to gain attention as part of its ongoing attack on the other major carriers, offering a big incentive for its "Simple Choice" plan customers to bring disgruntled Sprint (S) users into the fold.

This morning, T-Mobile announced a new program urging their customers "to throw a lifeline to beleaguered Sprint (or Verizon or AT&T) customers. When they bring in a customer to T-Mobile, both will get unlimited 4G LTE for a full year for no extra charge."

Those subscribers already on the unlimited data plan will receive a $10 each month for a year for each disgruntled customer they guide to a new T-Mobile contract. The new deal begins tomorrow, and is in addition to T-Mobile current "Refer-a-friend" offer to pay up to $650 of your friend's early termination fees when trade-in their old phone and switch to T-Mobile.

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Shares of T-Mobile were off 0.47% to $29.21 in midday trading in New York.

William Blair analyst Jim Breen believes T-Mobile's move is the "next progression" for the industry. "It's similar to what happened to voice service in the early 2000's when we used to pay for hundreds of minutes each month," Breen said in a phone interview. "Over time, people made less calls and now use more data." He believes that over time data limits will even out as well. Breen said he still has "hundreds of rollover minutes" left on his account.

Today's announcement comes in response to Sprint's newly introduced lower-cost monthly service offer described as "A New Day For Data." Dubbed "Sprint Family Share Pack," it doubles the high-speed data from their old "Framily" plan. As part of Sprint's new offer you can get "four lines and 20GB of data for $160 compared to 10GB of data for the same price from AT&T or Verizon." To kick things off Sprint is offering even more incentives to keep customers from jumping to other offers.

Sprint's new CEO, Marcelo Claure said earlier this week that his company would also be announcing new, lower-priced individual plans in the next few days. Over the past year his company has been losing customers to the competition. AT&T (T) and Verizon (VZ) have also lowered some monthly plan prices in response to T-Mobile latest success in attracting new customers.

MoffettNathanson analyst Craig Moffett thinks T-Mobile latest move is actually "a little bit of grandstanding" to take advantage of Sprint's newly announced plans which exclude existing subscribers. When asked whether T-Mobile's new offer will work, Moffett said, "Not really."

T-Mobile made it clear today's new offers are a way for its customers to "help" Sprint fans through a rough period. When talking about the offer, T-Mobile's outspoken CEO and President John Legere said, "It continues to amaze me to see the old carriers failing to listen to their customers-or reward them for their loyalty. That arrogance and indifference has defined the U.S. wireless industry for too long. We're changing all that."

In a recent survey by RootMetrics, T-Mobile has taken over third place when it comes to nationwide cellular network quality. Verizon and AT&T still remain first although AT&T has made gains over the past few months. Sprint, now in fourth place, is in the process of improving its 4G network.

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-- Written by Gary Krakow in New York.

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Gary Krakow is TheStreet's Senior Technology Correspondent.

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