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Sprint Launches Another 'Half Off' Deal, This Time Including T-Mobile

The fine print is key, though.

Screenshot by Re/code

Sprint on Wednesday announced initial details of a promotion promising those coming to Sprint can save 50 percent on their bill from another of the major carriers.

It’s part of a major announcement CEO Marcelo Claure has been teasing on Twitter.

At first blush it’s similar to a “cut your bill in half” offer the company did last year. That one, however, only applied to the service portion of the bill and only to customers coming from AT&T and Verizon. This deal applies to T-Mobile customers as well.

Sprint said that its offer applies to most — but not all — competitors’ plans, and that the offer is good through 2018. Sprint’s initial “cut your bill in half” promo amounted to savings for the typical customer, but not actually a 50 percent savings, since customers also have to finance or lease a new phone.

The company is also offering to cover up to $650 in switching costs, such as early termination fees, though customers are required to turn in their old phone to Sprint.

Customers can also try Sprint’s network for 28 days and, if they are unhappy, return their device for a full credit and pay no restocking fee, Claure said.

“There is a lot of skepticism about our network,” Claure said, adding that the only way to win customers over was to allow them to try it risk-free. “There’s going to be no gimmicks, no tricks.”

The “half off” promotion starts Friday and will be offered through Jan. 6, Claure said. The rates themselves will be offered for about two years, Claure said, or roughly the length of a typical cellphone contract. After that customers will need to switch to a standard Sprint plan.

For existing customers, Claure tweeted that Sprint is offering a free tablet and one year of free service. A Sprint representative said that the tablet is an Alcatel One Touch Pixi seven-inch model. The free service applies to the company’s $15 plan for one gigabyte of high-speed data. Customers also have the option of adding the tablet to a family shared data plan for no additional charge.

One big question is how Sprint will handle all the pricing moves even as it seeks to cut annual costs by $2 billion per year.

Claure said that the company doesn’t expect to incur debt over the new plans or free tablet. Claure said giving away a tablet can pay for itself if it lowers customer defections.

“That is the bet we are making,” Claure said.

Investors, though, didn’t seem to like the plan. Shares of Sprint were trading down significantly on Wednesday, changing hands recently at $4.08, down 32 cents, or more than 7 percent.

Sprint also announced it has launched its “LTE Plus” service in 77 cities, tapping the benefits of additional spectrum in the 2.5GHz band. The added airwaves, Sprint said, can allow compatible devices to see peak speeds in excess of 100 megabits per second. The iPhone 6s and about a dozen other handsets support the new band and so-called carrier aggregation to boost speeds. Sprint has touted its 2.5GHz holdings as among the reasons it won’t be bidding in next year’s spectrum auction.

Claure has promised that by 2017 the company will have the No. 1 or No. 2 network in 80 percent of markets.

“The time has come when our network is reaching an all-time high performance,” Claure said. “We expect it to only get better.”

As for the cost of the new promotion, Claure said that the company did its homework and that the addition of customers will outweigh the costs of the offer.

“This will be accretive in terms of the overall financial performance,” Claure said. “We are very disciplined in how we manage our pricing.”

Claure also said that this promotion will be simpler than the prior “cut your bill in half” deal, which applied to thousands of different rates. It was also “messy” for Sprint, which had to analyze each individual customer’s bills.

“It was confusing,” Claure said. “We believe this is going to be much more successful.”

This time around, Sprint is offering each potential switcher a choice of half off their carrier’s published rates, regardless of what the customer is currently paying or how much data they are currently getting. Claure said he expects half of switchers will choose to pay a bit more than half their current rate in order to get more data than they currently have.

To tout the simplicity, Sprint is tapping a kid to explain the new rates in a series of ads.

“We plan to be very vocal,” Claure said. “We plan to be everywhere.”

T-Mobile CEO John Legere fired back in a tweet, poking fun at the countdown clock that Sprint used to tease the promotion’s announcement. “Did we just witness beginning of the end for @sprint? $2.5B to cut, laying people off, now price cuts? The countdown clock makes sense now!”

Update: Found the fine print. For T-Mobile customers, the offer applies to the company’s Simple Choice 2GB, 6GB and 10GB plans, but not for unlimited data plan customers. It also excludes tablets. For AT&T and Verizon, it applies to a variety of advertised plans, including tablets.

But why should we have all the fine print fun. Here’s the full text:

**Monthly charges exclude taxes & Sprint Surcharges [incl. USF charge of up to 16.7% (varies quarterly), up to $2.50 Admin. & 40¢ Reg. /line/mo.) & fees by area (approx. 5–20%)]. Surcharges are not taxes. See sprint.com/taxesandfees.

Activ. Fee: $36/line. Plans: Offer ends 01/07/2016. Savings through 01/08/2018. Req valid port from AT&T, Verizon or T-Mobile active wireless line to consumer account. Plan includes unlimited domestic calling and texting and unlimited int’l texting. Select add’l int’l svcs are included. See sprint.com/globalroaming. Max of 10 phone/tablet/MBB lines and one data share group per account. At least one phone req. Subsidized devices incur an add’l $25/mo charge. Plans exclude unlimited music and video streaming, data carryover, tethering and cloud options that other carrier plans may offer. Data: High-speed data is access to 3G/4G data speeds. Includes on-network data allowance amount as determined by competitor plan and 100MB off-network data usage. Third-party content/downloads are add’l charge. Mobile Hotspot usage pulls from your shared data and off-network allowances. Discount Exclusions: Discount does not apply to certain charges such as taxes, surcharges, add-ons, apps, premium content, int’l svcs, devices, partial charges or add’l lines. Add a Line: Add a line at any time up to the max number of lines and get promotional pricing until 01/08/2018. Usage Limitations: To improve data experience for the majority of users, throughput may be limited, varied or reduced on the network. Sprint may terminate service if off-network roaming usage in a month exceeds: (1) 800 min. or a majority of min.; or (2) 100MB or a majority of KB. Prohibited network use rules apply—see sprint.com/termsandconditions. T-Mobile plan: Discount offer limited to T-Mobile’s advertised Simple Choice rate plan prices as of 11/16/15 for 2GB, 6GB and 10GB for non-discounted handsets only; tablet and MBB rate plans excluded. T-Mobile unlimited data rate plan excluded. Data is not shared among multiple lines. After high-speed data allotment is used, speeds will be reduced to 2G speeds (up to 128kbps) until the end of your bill cycle. Add’l on-network high-speed data allowance may be purchased at $15/GB. Verizon plan: Discount offer limited to Verizon’s advertised shared data rate plans as of 11/16/15 for 1GB, 3GB, 6GB, 12GB, 18GB, 20GB, and 25GB for non-discounted handsets, tablets and MBB devices. After high-speed data allotment is used, per kb overage fee applies (1.5 cents/megabyte). Tablet and MBB usage pulls from shared data allotment. AT&T plan: Discount offer limited to AT&T’s advertised shared data rate plans as of 11/16/15 for 300MB, 2GB, 5GB, 15GB, 20GB and 25GB for non-discounted handsets, tablets and MBB devices. After high-speed data allotment is used, per kb overage fee applies (1.5 cents/megabyte). Tablet and MBB usage pulls from shared data allotment. Sprint Easy Pay: Req monthly installment agreement, 0% APR, & qualifying device & service plan. If you cancel wireless service, remaining balance on device becomes due. Lease: Req qualifying device & service plan. No equipment security deposit. Customer is responsible for insurance and repairs. Early termination of lease/service: Remaining lease payments will be due immediately, and requires device return or payment of purchase option device price in lease. Contract Buy Out Offer: Max payment of $650 based on ETF (early termination fee) charged or remaining phone balance. Req active wireless phone line port from other carrier to Sprint; remain active, in good standing & turn in of working phone tied to phone balance or ETF submitted or be charged up to amount of the Reward Card. Register & submit final bill w/ ETF or phone balance within 60 days of switching at sprint.com/joinsprint. Allow 15 days after registration approval for Reward Card arrival. Excludes discounted phones, 100+ Corporate-liable, prepaid & ports made between Sprint or related entities. Device Turn-In: Phone must be deactivated & all personal data deleted. Phone will not be returned. No cash back. Not eligible for Sprint Buyback Program. If competitive device is not turned in within 30 days from activation, a non-return phone charge equal to the amount of the Reward Card provided to you. Reward Card: Terms & conditions apply to Reward Cards. See Cardholder Agreement or visit www.americanexpress.com/sprint for details. Subject to applicable law, a $3/mo service fee applies beginning in the 7th month after Card issuance. Card is issued by American Express Prepaid Card Management Corporation. American Express is not the sponsor of this promotion. Sprint Global Roaming: Requires capable phone and eligible domestic service plan with primary usage in the U.S. Includes voice calls at 20¢/minute in select countries, text messaging (not picture or video) and data in select countries on GSM/GPRS networks only, see sprint.com/internationalroaming. Not for extended int’l use; primary usage must occur on our U.S. network. Service may be terminated or restricted for excessive roaming. Premium-rate numbers not included. May not be combinable with other int’l data add-ons or offers. No tethering. Sprint reserves the right to change or discontinue offer at any time. Sprint Satisfaction Guarantee: To qualify, call us to deactivate & return to place of purchase w/ complete, undamaged phone/device & receipt within 14 days of activation. You pay for actual usage charges (monthly svc charges, taxes, Sprint surcharges, etc.). We’ll refund your phone/device cost. Activation fee will be refunded if returned within 3 days of activation. Sprint dealer may impose add’l fees. A $35 restocking fee may apply. Visit sprint.com/returns. Other Terms: Offers and coverage not available everywhere or for all phones/networks. May not be combined with other offers. No add’l discounts apply. Sprint reserves the right to change or cancel this offer at any time. Restrictions apply. See store or sprint.com for details.

This article originally appeared on Recode.net.