Sprint targets DirecTV customers with free year of cellphone service

Sprint is trying to lure DirecTV customers with one free year of cellphone service in a bold move aimed at the satellite TV company's new owner, AT&T.

AT&T, which acquired DirecTV for $48.5 billion in July, had been promoting a bundle that cut $10 a month from combined bill for video and wireless phone service.

The value of Sprint's promotion for a single line was about $50 a month.

According to commentators it was Sprint's way of offering DirecTV customers a bundle without actually owning a video company.

Sprint, which is looking to make a turnaround, had come out with a range of promotional offers to win over customers. But the Overland Park, Kansas, company had not been as successful as T-Mobile, which went through its own turnaround.

The April-June quarter saw Sprint lose 12,000 customers in ''postpaid'' phone plans, which customers with good credit are offered, while T-Mobile gained 760,000.

However, according to Sprint it had been reducing the size of its quarterly losses in customers and even saw gains in the months of May, June and July.

The offer was good for up to five lines on a single account.

Starting Friday and through September, DirecTV customers who switched to Sprint – and existing Sprint customers with DirecTV who added a new line could get 12 months of unlimited talk, text and 2 Gigabytes of data per line.

Sprint, which recently fell to the fourth spot among wireless carriers, behind T-Mobile, used AT&T's recent acquisition of DirecTV to poke fun at its competition.

Sprint shares rose over 5 per cent yesterday to $5.07.

''DirecTV customers love their TV service – but they shouldn't have to settle for AT&T wireless,'' said Sprint chief marketing officer Kevin Crull in a statement. ''Why not build the perfect bundle by combining with Sprint wireless? We're winning awards across the country because our network has never been stronger, faster or more reliable, and our customers have never been more satisfied.''

Last month Sprint said it would stop slowing video speeds for unlimited-data customers, following an outcry that the  practice undermined the carrier's attempt to promote a new phone plan yesterday. (See: Sprint to end throttling video speeds for unlimited-data customers).