& cplSiteName &

AT&T Gets 81% of Subs Off Unlimited Data

Sarah Thomas
4/22/2014
50%
50%

AT&T's recent changes in its pricing and subsidy models are paying off; more than 1 million of its customers have moved from unlimited data plans to tiered Mobile Share options.

As of the first quarter, 81% of AT&T Inc. (NYSE: T) customers were on a tiered data plan -- a 6% bump from the fourth quarter of last year. That's 42.9 million customers who are signed up for usage-based data plans, versus 33.5 million a year earlier. This is a big deal for the carrier as it looks to reduce the number of data hogs on its network.

Despite what CFO John Stephens called a "noisy competitive environment," AT&T managed to add more than 650,000 postpaid customers in the quarter. That net growth -- the strongest first-quarter growth in five years -- was due in large part to the success of both Mobile Share and Next, a plan the company ironically introduced as competitive response to T-Mobile US Inc. (See AT&T Adds 625K Postpaid Subs in Q1.)

Next is the carrier's no-subsidy plan, in which customers pay up front for their handset and can upgrade every year instead of waiting two. More than 40% of its smartphone gross adds and upgrades (at 2.9 million this quarter) were to a Next plans, causing a shift in revenue from services to equipment. Stephens said Next is also driving upgrades to LTE devices. More than 57% of the smartphones on its network are now 4G capable. (See AT&T's Next to Shorten Wait for Device Upgrades.)

"We've seen a dramatic change in purchasing activity," he said on the call. Even so, AT&T has no plans to do away with its subsidy plans, at least as long as there are a "significant number of customers who prefer it."

The CFO said it's too early to have a lot of Next customers trading in handsets yet, but he expects the carrier to use those phones that are exchanged in insurance fulfillment, for the prepaid market, or on the wholesale market, which is what it primarily did with trade-ins last years.

Customer migration to its data bucket Mobile Share plans was also "incredible," Stephens said on the call. The carrier offers Next customers discounted Mobile Share pricing, and he said that 46% of accounts are subscribing to at least the 10GB data option. Mobile Share's overall penetration is 46%, versus 20% in the fourth quarter, with accounts now totaling 11.3 million. (See AT&T Joins Verizon in the Shared Data Pool.)

The carrier also said that it plans to relaunch the Cricket brand, now fully under its ownership, in an aggressive way at the end of the second quarter. (See AT&T Plans a Prepaid Cricket Attack.)

— Sarah Reedy, Senior Editor, Light Reading

(13)  | 
Comment  | 
Print  | 
Newest First  |  Oldest First  |  Threaded View        ADD A COMMENT
Page 1 / 2   >   >>
burn0050bb
50%
50%
burn0050bb,
User Rank: Lightning
4/24/2014 | 2:06:41 PM
Re: Shared Data Migration
Well, I will stay within reach, but I want to use at least 8Gb/month. Then when we get close to the end of the billing cycle, check the data usage. Their app makes it very easy to see where you are.

 
Sarah Thomas
50%
50%
Sarah Thomas,
User Rank: Blogger
4/24/2014 | 1:00:53 PM
Re: Shared Data Migration
That's a dangerous game to play! Sure, they don't want you to go over because of the traffic, but you're the one that will be playing overages.

And, good point on tethering. I didn't think of that, but it's defintely a data cap buster.
burn0050bb
50%
50%
burn0050bb,
User Rank: Lightning
4/24/2014 | 12:53:50 PM
Re: Shared Data Migration
When I chatted with the person on the web site, they swore it was not an introductory rate, would not go up, etc. (I asked pointedly). Technically, the person wasn't lying. As long as you don't upgrade your phone, it won't go up. But this bait and switch really pisses me off. Had I known these details, I wouldn't have changed my plan.

 
burn0050bb
50%
50%
burn0050bb,
User Rank: Lightning
4/24/2014 | 12:51:00 PM
Re: Shared Data Migration
Well, when you have 2 kids, it's easy to go through the data. We used over 8Gb our first month on the plan. Now that I can use my phone as a hotspot, the kids can watch movies on the iPad when there's no WiFi.

I now plan to use as close as I can to the limit out of spite. They start sending you warnings every 2.5Gigs used to try to scare you into using less.

 
LawD
50%
50%
LawD,
User Rank: Lightning
4/24/2014 | 11:18:46 AM
Re: Shared Data Migration
They are unsubsidized rates, not teaser rates. After a few months, that $25 monthly "savings" can buy one of several handsets that are more than capable for most users. The Lumia 520 which regularly goes for $60 or less comes to mind.
Sarah Thomas
50%
50%
Sarah Thomas,
User Rank: Blogger
4/24/2014 | 8:40:26 AM
Re: Shared Data Migration
It's not something they mentioned to me until they very end of our call when I was switching too. It'll be an issue for my parents in a few months when they're eligible to upgrade. There's value in holding on to your phone as long as you can!
Phil_Britt
50%
50%
Phil_Britt,
User Rank: Light Sabre
4/24/2014 | 8:38:06 AM
Re: Shared Data Migration
What about the upgrade issue that burn mentions? It's something I was unaware of, but it's a good point. Most people upgrade their phones every 18 months or so (I won't mention how long I had a flip phone).
Sarah Thomas
50%
50%
Sarah Thomas,
User Rank: Blogger
4/24/2014 | 8:29:14 AM
Re: Shared Data Migration
Ugh, those promotions can really drive you nuts when they end. My U-Verse bill seems to get higher every month and the explanation is always that a promotion ended. But, what you found is the exact reason its Next plans are doing so well too. People may not want them necessarily, but they make they move once they go to upgrade their phone and realize the price bumps that result. Linking the plans and savings together was a smart move for AT&T to get customers to do both, even if they aren't happy about it.
Sarah Thomas
50%
50%
Sarah Thomas,
User Rank: Blogger
4/24/2014 | 8:27:28 AM
Re: Shared Data Migration
I could see where that would be the case, but I'm one of those that joined a Mobile Share plan in Q1 with my parents. I use quite a bit of data -- a lot more than them -- and we are nowhere close to hitting the 10GB cap. You'd have to be a pretty big movie watcher, never use WiFi or have a lot of devices on your plan for it to be an issue, I would think.
Ariella
50%
50%
Ariella,
User Rank: Light Sabre
4/23/2014 | 8:37:02 PM
Re: Shared Data Migration
" the 4 user, 10Gb plan that they tout so heavily for $160/month will quickly jump to as much $260/month once you start upgrading your phones." that is quite a jump @burn0060bb. Teaser rates.
Page 1 / 2   >   >>
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 28, 1:00PM EDT
Gigabit 101
Will Barkis, Senior Technology Analyst, Orange
UPCOMING COURSE SCHEDULE
Friday, September 30, 1:00PM EDT
Gigabit & the Great Migration
Robert Howald, Vice President, Network Architecture, Comcast
Wednesday, October 5, 1:00PM EDT
Gigabit & Smart Cities
Joe Kochan, COO & Co-Founder, US Ignite
Friday, October 7, 1:00PM EDT
Gigabit & DOCSIS 3.1
Ty Pearman, Director, Access Architecture, Comcast
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.
LRTV Documentaries
MEC Congress: The Key Takeaways

9|22|16   |   03:25   |   (3) comments


Three key takeaways from the Mobile Edge Computing (MEC) Congress in Munich, Germany.
Wagner’s Ring
Time to Shut Up About 'Dumb Pipes'

9|22|16   |     |   (12) comments


Service providers can't compete with OTT players. It just isn't in their DNA. Instead, service providers need to embrace what they're good at -- providing reliable, secure connectivity.
Wagner’s Ring
Keeping Your Tech Career Going After 50

9|21|16   |     |   (13) comments


How do you keep your career moving forward when you're past the half-century mark?
LRTV Interviews
Peering Into the Digital Future

9|20|16   |   04:25   |   (0) comments


Nick Thomas, practice leader of digital media at Ovum, talks about how digital transformation in the technology, media and telecom sectors will enable the development of a new range of applications and services for enterprises and consumers and how the upcoming Digital Futures event in London will examine ...
LRTV Custom TV
Napatech Tackles NFV's Major Challenge

9|7|16   |   08:42   |   (0) comments


One of the main challenges for network operators introducing NFV is to combine performance and flexibility in a cost-effective way, but there is a solution, explains Napatech's Dan Joe Barry.
LRTV Custom TV
Huawei Optical Innovation 2016

9|6|16   |     |   (0) comments


Highlights of the 2016 Huawei Optical Innovation forum.
LRTV Huawei Video Resource Center
Are You Ready for Huawei Connect 2016?

8|31|16   |     |   (0) comments


Join us for an exclusive sneak peak of Huawei Connect, an integrated conference for the global ICT ecosystem taking place in Shanghai.
Between the CEOs
CEO Chat: UXP's Gemini Waghmare

8|26|16   |     |   (0) comments


Light Reading CEO Steve Saunders and UXP Systems CEO Gemini Waghmare discuss the strategic importance of digital identity for operators in the midst of transformation.
LRTV Custom TV
F5 Virtual Network Function Integrations With Partner Orchestration Platform

8|24|16   |   6:38   |   (0) comments


F5's Kishore Patnam, product manager for F5's service provider solutions, discusses why service providers are moving towards virtualization and how his clients are utilizing F5's solutions.
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.
Upcoming Live Events
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
Hot Topics
Keeping Your Tech Career Going After 50
Mitch Wagner, West Coast Bureau Chief, Light Reading, 9/21/2016
Time to Shut Up About 'Dumb Pipes'
Mitch Wagner, West Coast Bureau Chief, Light Reading, 9/22/2016
Comcast Will Go Wireless in 2017
Mari Silbey, Senior Editor, Cable/Video, 9/20/2016
Sprint CEO: We'll Lease Spectrum as Soon as Possible
Dan Jones, Mobile Editor, 9/20/2016
Like Us on Facebook
Twitter Feed
BETWEEN THE CEOs - Executive Interviews
Light Reading CEO Steve Saunders and UXP Systems CEO Gemini Waghmare discuss the strategic importance of digital identity for operators in the midst of transformation.
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.
Animals with Phones
You Thought Your Customer Service Was Unreliable... Click Here
Live Digital Audio

A vital part of increasing the number of women in comms is transforming the ways companies can support and empower women. While progressive company policies that support both men and women in achieving work-life balance are a step in the right direction, creating a company culture that supports those policies can at times be more challenging.

During this show, we'll talk to Lynn Comp, Senior Director of Industry and Sales Enabling (ISE) in the Network Platforms Group at Intel, about why those challenges exist and how companies can overcome them. She'll provide insight into how Intel has worked to create a culture that supports work-life balance, and provide steps and guidance for other companies wishing to do the same. We will also leave plenty of time to get your questions answered live on the air.