Sprint says join us and we'll cut your bill 50% -- again

sprint holding cash

Sprint really, really wants people to switch to its network.

The carrier is now offering people the chance to switch their plans over to Sprint and pay half of what they were paying with other carriers.

The half-off promotion is similar to the one Sprint ran last year around this time with some key differences.

In 2014, Sprint only offered to cut the bill for Verizon and AT&T subscribers. T-Mobile customers are also eligible this year.

Sprint now also makes it possible for people who are switching to select from most plans within a carrier's offering, and Sprint will charge half of what the former carrier would have charged.

For example, a family paying $100 for 15GB at AT&T can get the same amount of data for $50 if they switch.

"We believe this will be much more successful than Cut Your Rate Plan In Half [from last year]," Claure said on a call with reporters on Wednesday. "It was confusing."

But this year's offer comes with a few caveats.

T-Mobile's $95 unlimited data plan is not eligible, for starters. The discount also doesn't apply to taxes and other add-on charges.

Lastly, although Sprint no longer requires people to turn in their cell phones when they switch, some new customers may have to hand them in and get new phones.

"Customers have 28 days to experience Sprint service. If they are not satisfied, customers can return their device with no restocking fee," Sprint said in its announcement.

The discounted rates end January 2018 for people who switch between this Friday and January 7, 2016.

The company is also giving existing customers a free Alcatel tablet with one year of free service if they sign a two year contract.

"Our company would be nothing without our existing customers so we wanted to make sure we showed our appreciation to them, too," Sprint CEO Marcelo Claure said in a statement.

Wednesday's announcement was widely expected.

Sprint says it wants to "celebrate" the launch of its new LTE Plus network.

To promote the news, the carrier set up a dedicated website with a countdown clock, created the hashtag #SprintCountdown, and Claure tweeted hints about the news several times over the past week.

Sprint's new deal comes a week after T-Mobile announced it would stop counting certain video streams against customers' data plans.

The two carriers seem to be locked in a perpetual price war to attract new customers -- as well as a PR race with back-to-back timing on their statements.

Earlier this year, when T-Mobile (TMUS) offered a $5 a month iPhone promotion, Sprint came out with a $1 deal a few days later.

Both companies are trying to steal market share from Verizon (VZ) and AT&T (T), which have better overall network performance.

But Claure says he has bold plans beyond pricing.

"We will have the best network in the next two years," he told CNNMoney in an interview in September.

By that time, people who joined Sprint because of this promotion will hopefully stay on as customers when the rates revert back to regular pricing.

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