AT&T will be moving away from their required two-year contracts. Once your existing contract expires you will not have the option to renew. Customers can purchase their new smartphones on the AT&T Next payment plan or pay the no commitment price for the device.
T-Mobile was the first to move away from contracts in 2013 when they uncoupled the cost of the device from the cost of the plan. This was a bold move that worked out well for them. Verizon followed suit last August by introducing their smartphone rate plans and by eliminating the two-year contract requirement for new users. Existing users have the option to renew their contracts but this is not the case with AT&T who is eliminating contracts entirely beginning January 8th, 2016.
This effort to simplify pricing may be a good move for AT&T since this has worked well for T-Mobile. Based on what I’ve seen personally AT&T appears to have lost a number of clients to T-Mobile since 2013, in fact, I happen to be one of them. I was a Cingular customer before AT&T acquired them. I had a Grandfathered unlimited data plan with 400 minutes and no free text messages, and no included tethering. When I added my wife to my plan, she needed to pay for data. When friends were telling me about the plans at T-Mobile I began to look into them further.
Today I switched to T-Mobile because both my wife and I now have Unlimited Data, Unlimited calling in North America, Unlimited Text, 14 Gigs of 4G tethering for each line. Nothing is shared. No contract and the flexibility to change plans at any time, and upgrade your phone at any time, and a generous trade-in program. I’m getting all this for a few dollars more than what I was paying AT&T. T-Mobile gets it. The average family simply can’t afford $200+ per month for cell and data services.
I applaud AT&T’s efforts and hopefully this will translate into more generous service plans and friendlier service. For example, getting your phone unlocked from AT&T is an ordeal. There is no reason to subject a customer to the requirements of Unlock Request numbers and emails that don’t come in a timely manner, and more in order to unlock a phone that a customer already owns. Having to wait up to 3 days to get an unlock approval is absurd. All that should happen is the customer goes to the new carrier, the new carrier’s employee calls the old carrier and provides the customer’s account information and the device IMEI number. There is no reason for this to take more than 5 minutes.
I wish AT&T luck and I would have never switched, but I was tired of hearing about how much more others were getting for their money, so today, I am hopeful that T-Mobile’s service will not let me down. So far I’m impressed with their customer service and the plans they offer.