t-mobile unlimited data planT-Mobile and Sprint escalated the wireless pricing wars today.

T-Mobile said that next week it will begin offering unlimited mobile data at no extra charge for 12 months to Simple Choice customers who get a friend to switch to T-Mobile and will also give the friend unlimited mobile data for a year. Customers who already have unlimited mobile data and who get a friend to switch will get a $10 monthly discount for a year.

Meanwhile, Sprint launched an unlimited mobile data offering for $60 a month, which as Sprint notes, is $20 less than T-Mobile’s regular $80 price for unlimited mobile data.

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Although T-Mobile’s offer applies to customers’ friends who switch from any of the other three mobile carriers, the company’s press release left no doubt about its primary target.

“When we saw how Sprint’s dissing its own customers and dropping unlimited LTE plans for families, we knew we had an opportunity to help these people out,” said T-Mobile Chief Marketing Officer Mike Sievert in the release, which likened T-Mobile customers getting friends to switch from Sprint to throwing them a lifeline.

In its release, Sprint said customers signing up for its unlimited offering save money and “don’t have to jump through T-Mobile’s hoops and recruit their friends.”

Sprint Wireless Pricing War
Sprint’s move came on top of new pricing for family plans introduced just days ago. That move appeared to primarily target AT&T and Verizon as Sprint’s new pricing undercut theirs but was higher than T-Mobile’s pricing except at the highest data volumes.

Both Sprint and T-Mobile have been upgrading their networks and likely have more spare capacity than the nation’s two largest wireless carriers AT&T and Verizon, so it’s not surprising that they are both looking to unlimited mobile data offerings to gain market share.

Neither AT&T nor Verizon offers unlimited mobile data but they may continue to be the preferred networks for customers who value service quality over price. According to RootMetrics data released this week, Verizon was number one and AT&T was a close second on overall wireless service quality in recent real-world tests.

Sprint’s new CEO Marcelo Claure was put in place to gain market share by cutting prices and the industry will be watching the four major players’ metrics more closely than ever in coming months to see how much success Sprint has with the new strategy.

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