Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) offers represent an increasing threat to Verizon as several operators have launched promotions meant to lure subscribers into changing their carriers while retaining their existing handset, according to analysts at Deutsche Bank Research. The analysts are referring to recent BYOD initiatives kicked off by many U.S. telecommunications companies to convince users to ditch their Verizon subscription and switch to another network.
One of those companies is Comcast, which began working on BYOD and trade-in programs for its MVNO Xfinity Mobile last August. That program finally took off last week with Comcast’s announcement that Xfinity Internet customers will be able to bring their own device to Xfinity Mobile at any Xfinity store nationwide, provided they have an eligible smartphone. Non-eligible devices, nonetheless, can be traded in for a gift card that’s equivalent to the handset’s value to help save the cost of upgrading to a new phone. Longer upgrade cycles are also driving users to BYOD deals instead of upgrading their device. Some U.S. carriers, in particular, are also offering new service options to the BYOD crowd as subscribers are becoming less interested in purchasing new phones. For example, Sprint is still offering a free year of unlimited service to customers who switch from any of its rival carriers and bring their own device to the SoftBank-owned network. T-Mobile, on the other hand, has a promotion targeted primarily at Verizon customers, letting them bring their Pixel phones or iPhones and have their existing device payment plans reimbursed by the company. AT&T is also jumping on the bandwagon with a free activation offer for those that bring their device over to the carrier.
BYOD promotions are meant to take advantage of Verizon’s shift from its traditional two-year contract model to installment plans, a business model first introduced by T-Mobile. Under this plan, customers have the freedom to choose a new device and agree to a monthly installment fee over the course of either one, two, or three years. That means a customer’s device is not locked to their mobile plan and they can freely switch between plans and carriers.