Virgin Mobile is trying to make itself heard over all the talking that T-Mobile, its reinvigorated and slightly larger rival, has been doing of late.
T-Mobile's very untraditional CEO, John Legere, has been repositioning T-Mobile as the "un-carrier" and marketing a new way of selling devices that he says does away with all that's unclear and frustrating about wireless carriers. T-Mobile is also aggressively going after what Legere calls the "value market" and, helped by its in-the-works acquisition of MetroPCS, has been successfully growing its share of the prepaid market.
All of which has it stepping on Virgin Mobile's toes.
Virgin Mobile—an asset of Sir Richard Branson, the original "un-CEO"—is now offering T-Mobile subscribers $100 to "ditch T-Mobile."
Switch to Virgin from T-Mobile before May 31 and, after your first month's payment, a service credit will be applied to the account within 30 days, says the fine print on the carrier's site.
Legere, during a March 26 New York City event to, among other things, clarify its new data plans, said buying the iPhone 5 with a $50 monthly data plan from T-Mobile would save a customer more than $1,000 over two years, as opposed to a comparable plan on AT&T.
Virgin Mobile is now advertising that it offers 2.5GB of high-speed data for $55 a month, compared with T-Mobile's $60 a month. Further, the speed that one is slowed down to after passing those 2.5GB is 3G on Virgin Mobile but 2G on T-Mobile. Plus, there's that come-on-over Benjamin, making for a two-year savings grand total of $220.
If you're inclined to buy the Galaxy S II—despite the Galaxy S 4 having already been introduced—Virgin says it can save you another $114, making for an overall savings of $334 over two years.
Not the most compelling offer, but it's something.
Virgin Mobile runs on the Sprint network, and on Feb. 25 it introduced the Samsung Galaxy Victory 4G LTE (Long Term Evolution)—the carrier's first LTE-enabled smartphone.
"With the phones customers want, unlimited data and messaging included on all plans, and now 4G LTE-capable devices, we continue to provoke customers to ask themselves why they haven't switched from postpaid to a better deal with Virgin Mobile," Mark Lederman, director of Virgin Mobile USA, said in a statement introducing the victory.
If Virgin is provoking subscribers to leave T-Mobile, T-Mobile is provoking others to leave larger rivals, particularly AT&T (which, in its own way, has tried to fire back).
At the 2013 Consumer Electronics Show in January, Legere joked that AT&T's network in New York is "crap"—at the New York event in March he joked that the "media got it all wrong" and he hadn't said that, or that porn was going to be the undoing of Verizon's shared data plans.
But Legere has repeated that T-Mobile plans to get feistier in the ways that, "all in fun," it goes after its competitors.
At the New York event, showing off a new commercial in which one cowboy has a change of heart and decides to break away from a pack of four bad guys, Legere told the audience, grinning, "That nasty guy on the end is Sprint, you've got to know that, right?"