& cplSiteName &

AT&T Plans a Prepaid Cricket Attack

Sarah Thomas
1/28/2014
50%
50%

Once AT&T's acquisition of Leap Wireless closes in the first quarter, the carrier is planning to be aggressive in the prepaid market and ramp up its contract-free smartphone base.

Speaking on the company's fourth-quarter earnings call, AT&T Inc. (NYSE: T) CEO Randall Stephenson devoted a lot of time to talking up the carrier's prepaid plans, a first for it as it's usually focused on the more lucrative postpaid market.

The carrier actually lost 32,000 prepaid subscribers in the fourth quarter, which it attributed to tablet subscribers, but Stephenson assured analysts that things will be different once its acquisition of Leap Wireless closes in the first quarter. The CEO said his research into the small, contract-free carrier has shown off the strength of its customer-facing brand, Cricket Communications, so much so that AT&T will shut down its own prepaid brand, Aio Wireless, when the deal closes. (See AT&T to Acquire Leap Wireless for $1.19B.)

With more than 93% of its postpaid customer base now using smartphones, AT&T also plans to look to the prepaid market for future smartphone growth. The carrier did manage to add more than 230,000 prepaid smartphones to its network in the fourth quarter, giving it a base of more than 2 million prepaid smartphones. ARPU for these customers is more than 70% higher than the non-smartphone prepaid base, Stephenson said. (See AT&T's Device Mix Shifts Away From Postpaid.)

"You'll see us get most competitive moving into the value space with the Leap acquisition and using the Cricket brand," Stephenson said when questioned about AT&T's response to the competitive environment created by T-Mobile US Inc. "We'll be very assertive and aggressive on pushing smartphones on prepaid," he said.

The AT&T boss didn't offer much detail about what he had in store for Cricket, mainly repeating that putting the Cricket brand on top of the AT&T network has the potential to shake up the prepaid industry. He did, however, note that there is more wiggle room for lower prices using the Cricket brand, because it wouldn't affect the core of AT&T.

As for its core network, the carrier is also ahead on its LTE network deployment plans, currently covering 280 million people with plans to reach 300 million with the 4G network by this summer. (See AT&T Adds 12 LTE Cities as 4G Goes Global.)

Overall in the fourth quarter, AT&T added 809,000 subscribers, 300,000 fewer than it did last year. But, it also grew its wireless revenues 4.5% to $18.4 billion. The carrier sold 7.9 million smartphones in the quarter, down from 10.2 million a year ago. Its postpaid churn was at 1.11%, its lowest ever for the fourth quarter.

— Sarah Reedy, Senior Editor, Light Reading

(2)  | 
Comment  | 
Print  | 
Newest First  |  Oldest First  |  Threaded View        ADD A COMMENT
Liz Greenberg
50%
50%
Liz Greenberg,
User Rank: Light Sabre
3/14/2014 | 6:30:23 PM
Re: AT&T v T-Mobile
I know that the "uncarrier" has already affected both AT&T and Verizon price plans.  It will be interesting to see what happens with Cricket pricing...especially since AT&T will push for more smartphones and higher ARPUs.
Sarah Thomas
50%
50%
Sarah Thomas,
User Rank: Blogger
1/28/2014 | 7:51:50 PM
AT&T v T-Mobile
T-Mobile is clearly having an affect on AT&T with its prepaid customer losses, but Stephenson didn't acknowledge the uncarrier or its CEO in the earnings call. I guess Legere's main beef is with de la Vega, but I think it's good Stephenson didn't acknowledge it either. Didn't have too -- the results were good enough he didn't have to.
Light Reading’s Upskill U is a FREE, interactive, online educational resource that delivers must-have education on themes that relate to the overall business transformation taking place in the communications industry.
NEXT COURSE
Wednesday, September 14, 1:00PM EDT
What Is Agile?
Kent J. McDonald, Product Owner, Agile Alliance
UPCOMING COURSE SCHEDULE
Friday, September 16, 1:00PM EDT
How to Implement Agile
,
Wednesday, September 21, 1:00PM EDT
What Is DevOps?
Colin Kincaid, CTO, Service Provider, Cisco
Friday, September 23, 1:00PM EDT
How to Implement DevOps
,
in association with:
From The Founder
Light Reading today starts a new voyage as part of a larger Enterprise.
Flash Poll
Live Streaming Video
Charting the CSP's Future
Six different communications service providers join to debate their visions of the future CSP, following a landmark presentation from AT&T on its massive virtualization efforts and a look back on where the telecom industry has been and where it's going from two industry veterans.
Between the CEOs
CEO Chat: Intel's Alexis Black Bjorlin

8|17|16   |   06:23   |   (0) comments


Join us for an in-depth interview between Steve Saunders of Light Reading and Alexis Black Bjorlin of Intel as they discuss the release of the company's Silicon Photonics platform, its performance, long-term prospects, customer expectations and much more.
Telecom Innovators Video Showcase
Accelerating Telecom Digital Transformation With Nominum DNS

8|1|16   |   12:04   |   (0) comments


Light Reading's Steve Saunders gets an update from Nominum CEO Gary Messiana on how his company is helping carriers on the digital transformation journey.
LRTV Custom TV
Reinventing Operations for a Virtual, Software-Defined World

7|28|16   |   5:23   |   (0) comments


Heavy Reading Senior Analyst Jim Hodges speaks with Accenture's Larry Socher and Matt Anderson about what service providers must do to transform their business to get the benefits of SDN and NFV including: leveraging DevOps, introducing real-time OSS and implementing analytics.
Women in Comms Introduction Videos
Fujitsu Sales Leader Shares Lessons Learned

7|27|16   |   5:12   |   (1) comment


As Fujitsu's only female sales leader, Annie Bogue knows the importance of asking for what you want, being flexible (she's been relocated five times), keeping a meticulous calendar, 'leaning in,' working harder than everyone else around you, being aware and more.
Telecom Innovators Video Showcase
VeEX Test & Measurement Solutions

7|25|16   |   08:57   |   (0) comments


Cyrille Morelle, president and CEO of VeEX Inc., talks test and measurement with Light Reading's Steve Saunders at BCE 2016. This includes innovative products such as VeSion Cloud-Based platform for network monitoring; MTTplus Modular Test platform for Access, Business, Carrier Ethernet, Transport and Core services; and OPX-BOX+ for Fiber Optics.
LRTV Custom TV
VeEX: Live From BCE 2016

7|25|16   |   03:20   |   (0) comments


VeEX's Senior Director of Business Development, Perry Romano, explains how VeEX provides tools to help install, maintain, monitor and manage network infrastructure efficiently and effectively. The portfolio of products on display include the RXT-6000, MTTplus and TX300s.
LRTV Custom TV
Real-Time Telemetry & Analytics for Intelligent SDN Orchestration

7|25|16   |   03:09   |   (0) comments


Packet Design CEO Scott Sherwood discusses how real-time network telemetry and analytics are enabling a new breed of SDN orchestration applications.
From the Founder
The Russo Report: Driving Disruption

7|25|16   |   07:44   |   (2) comments


In the first episode of a four-part series, Light Reading Founder and CEO Steve Saunders and Calix President and CEO Carl Russo drive around town discussing the disruptive mega-changes in the communications industry and where hope lies for service providers to meet the escalating demands of the cloud.
LRTV Custom TV
NetScout: Maximizing Enterprise Cloud for Digital Transformation

7|20|16   |   04:53   |   (0) comments


Light Reading Editor Mitch Wagner talks to NetScout CMO Jim McNiel about maximizing the benefits of enterprise cloud and digital transformation while minimizing potential pitfalls with a proper monitoring and instrumentation strategy.
Women in Comms Introduction Videos
Ciena's VP Offers a Career Crash Course

7|20|16   |   4:14   |   (2) comments


How did Ciena's Vice President of Sales, Angela Finn, carve out her career path? Simple, she tells WiC. She stayed true to her company, customers and principles. She shares her advice for women on how to be authentic and credible, as well as for companies that want to make a real change to their culture and practices.
LRTV Custom TV
NFV in 2016: Part 2 – Climbing the Virtualization Maturity Curve

7|19|16   |   06:56   |   (0) comments


Many of the initial use case implementations are single-vendor and self-contained. The industry is still climbing the virtualization maturity curve, needing further clarity and stability in the NFV infrastructure (NFVi) and greater availability and choice of virtualized network functions (VNFs). Interoperability between NFVis and VNFs from different vendors ...
Telecom Innovators Video Showcase
Versa Networks' Kumar Mehta on SD-WAN Managed Services

7|19|16   |     |   (0) comments


In Silicon Valley, Steve Saunders sits down with Versa's Kumar Mehta for an interview focused on why service providers are building SD-WAN managed services, and how Versa's telco customers are innovating.
Upcoming Live Events
September 13-14, 2016, The Curtis Hotel, Denver, CO
November 3, 2016, The Montcalm Marble Arch, London
November 30, 2016, The Westin Times Square, New York City
December 1, 2016, The Westin Times Square, New York, NY
December 6-8, 2016, The Westin Excelsior, Rome
May 16-17, 2017, Austin Convention Center, Austin, TX
All Upcoming Live Events
Infographics
Five of the Top 10 most targeted countries in Check Point Software Technologies' global Malware & Threat Index for Q1 2016 are in Africa.
Hot Topics
Cisco Developing 'Monica' Digital Assistant
Mitch Wagner, West Coast Bureau Chief, Light Reading, 8/22/2016
Cisco Throws 5,500 Overboard on Cruise to Richer Waters
Mitch Wagner, West Coast Bureau Chief, Light Reading, 8/17/2016
VoLTE Can Drive 4G Small Cells Adoption
Ravi Narayanan, Senior Analyst – Cloud & Next Generation Mobile Networks, Heavy Reading, 8/18/2016
Slow Roll Builds for DOCSIS 3.1
Mari Silbey, Senior Editor, Cable/Video, 8/17/2016
Rocket Fiber Lights Up Detroit With Gigabit
Elizabeth Miller Coyne, Managing Editor, 8/22/2016
Like Us on Facebook
Twitter Feed
BETWEEN THE CEOs - Executive Interviews
Join us for an in-depth interview between Steve Saunders of Light Reading and Alexis Black Bjorlin of Intel as they discuss the release of the company's Silicon Photonics platform, its performance, long-term prospects, customer expectations and much more.
There's no question that, come 2020, 5G technology will turn the world's conception of what mobile networking is on its head. Within the world of 5G development, Dr. ...
Animals with Phones
Live Digital Audio

Bridging the tech skills gap is a major challenge for service providers and suppliers alike today – and the challenge is two-fold when it comes to increasing the number of women in the comms space. Level 3 Communications has made it a priority to overcome both challenges by implementing several unique programs focused on building the right candidates from within – in addition to filling the funnel by supporting STEM and other education programs. During this radio show, you’ll learn about these programs from Mary Beth McGrath, SVP of Global Talent Management at Level 3, and the best ways to bridge your own skills gap so that you are motivated and equipped for change. Plus you’ll have the chance to ask Mary Beth your questions live on the air.