T-Mobile US is to offer about 10 million of its customers free shares as the fast-growing company attempts to take on its larger rivals.
Pay-monthly customers can get one share – now worth $43.07 – with the chance of more for referring new customers.
“This has never been done before,” by a public company, claimed chief executive John Legere.
T-Mobile, the third biggest US network after Verizon and AT&T, has a reputation for innovative promotions.
It styles itself as the “uncarrier”, offering customers free video-streaming options, gifts, tie-ups with ticket agency StubHub, and customer-friendly data plans that have been copied by rivals.
The oversaturated US mobile market has sparked a price war with providers fighting for market share.
T-Mobile customers qualifying for a free share will be able to earn up to 100 more if they refer new subscribers.
The company said in a statement that some long-term customers will qualifying for two extra shares per referral.
Mr Legere, known for his boisterous presentations and love of social media, said: “Get ready for a gratitude adjustment, America. This Un-carrier move is all about giving you a good thanking! No strings. No gotchas. Just ‘thank you for being a customer'”.
T-Mobile US chief marketing officer Andrew Sherrard told the Reuters news agency: “Some [free offers] will cost us some money but over time we think it will be a really good investment.”
The company, controlled by Deutsche Telekom, said it added 2.2 million customers on a net basis in the first quarter ending 31 March.