T-Mobile to Offer Free IPhones in Revival of Giveaway Deals

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(Bloomberg) -- T-Mobile US Inc. has been the fastest-growing U.S. carrier for the past five years thanks in part to giveaways like no-charge Netflix streaming service, and it’s going back to the free-stuff well with an offer of Apple Inc. iPhones.

Starting Friday through Monday, all regular monthly T-Mobile and Sprint subscribers can trade in their good-condition phones for a new iPhone SE, the company said in a statement. The low-end Apple model costs about $400. Customers who don’t want an iPhone can get $500 toward a new Samsung phone, T-Mobile said.

As part of the Memorial Day weekend giveaways, T-Mobile is also launching a 10-year “thank you” program that provides all first-responder agencies with free calling, texts and wireless data service. The offer expands on a “Connecting Heroes” initiative announced in November that gave first responders such as police, fire and emergency-medical workers free access to 5G service.

New Chief Executive Officer Mike Sievert announced the giveaways via a home video, in his first public sales promotion since taking over for his shaggy-haired, magenta-clad predecessor, John Legere. Under Legere and Sievert, who had been the company’s chief operating officer, T-Mobile rose from the smallest of four nationwide wireless services to the second-largest by regular-customer count. It staged a series of “uncarrier” promotions and acquired its rival Sprint in a deal that closed last month.

To gain approval for the takeover, T-Mobile promised federal regulators that it would expand 5G wireless coverage across the country, add jobs and freeze prices. “Skeptics said we wouldn’t deliver” on the merger commitments, “but they were wrong,” Sievert said in the video. “When we make a commitment, we make it happen.”

If all first responders took T-Mobile’s free-service offer, Sievert said, U.S. agencies would save about $7.7 billion in costs over the 10-year period.

T-Mobile shares have climbed 23% this year, compared with an 8.6% decline for the S&P 500.

©2020 Bloomberg L.P.

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