T-Mobile Joins AT&T, Verizon in Targeting First Responders

T-Mobile today announced new pricing plans specifically for first responders such as state and local law enforcement, firefighters and other emergency-response personnel. The offering is the latest effort by T-Mobile to craft promotions at targeted customer segments, having previously developed plans for customers over 55 years old and for members of the US military.

T-Mobile's management promised that the operator's latest pricing gambit would "spark a reaction" from the competition. That's indeed what happened when T-Mobile announced its pricing plans for US military last year.

However, Sprint, AT&T and Verizon all already offer pricing discounts for state and local first responders (federal employees are not covered by the offerings). For example, AT&T offers the same 25% discount to first responders as it does to US military, while Verizon touts unlimited data plans as low as $30 per month for first responders. Sprint too already offers specific discounts to first responders.

T-Mobile is offering two new "Magenta First Responder" plans, one starting at $25 per month and another starting at $35 per month that offers extra hotspot data, HD streaming and other premium goodies. The operator is also offering a discount on Samsung phones for first responders.

A difference in strategies
To be clear, T-Mobile is targeting its new pricing plans at rank-and-file first responders and their families, whereas AT&T and Verizon have taken their battle over the segment up a notch to sell directly to public-safety organizations like police departments and fire stations with services that could cover dozens or hundreds of actual users. Verizon has long enjoyed a solid market position in the public-safety sector, but AT&T is working on challenging Verizon's position with its 2017 agreement with the government's FirstNet program to build a nationwide network for public-safety workers. AT&T has cited its FirstNet deal as a driver of new customers in recent quarters.

Importantly, AT&T and Verizon are offering a range of unique services that are only intended for public safety users. Those unique offerings include "preemption" and "priority" (which boot regular users off a congested network so that public-safety users can access it) and "private core" operations (which separate public-safety network traffic from commercial traffic for additional security).

In its business division, T-Mobile also boasts of a "priority" service for first responders.

Mike Dano, Editorial Director, 5G & Mobile Strategies, Light Reading | @mikeddano

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