3:05 PM -- AT&T Inc. is stepping into its future acquiree T-Mobile USA's, territory Tuesday as it introduces its first pre-paid smartphone, the LG Electronics Inc. Thrive, and takes contractless pricing lower.
Along with the $180 Android-based Thrive, AT&T introduced a new pre-paid data package of 500MB of data for $25 and lowered the prices of its existing plans by $5 each. Now users can get 10MB for $5 or 100MB for $15. Unlimited talk and text plans remain at 10 cents a minute or $2 per day for unlimited talk and text.
AT&T hasn't been as gun-shy about pre-paid as competitor Verizon Wireless, but it certainly doesn’t have the reputation for value that T-Mobile does. Of course, if the acquisition goes through, it will be buying that reputation and thousands of customers with it.
Showing its future stepchildren that Mama Bell cares enough to lower prices and bring advanced devices to the pre-paid market is one way it can increase the good vibes prior to the merger. A lot of T-Mobile customers are likely worried about what exactly the union means for them, even as AT&T halfheartedly assures them their rate plans will stay the same.
I don't expect any T-Mobile customers to move to AT&T for GoPhone, AT&T's pre-paid brand, on their own volition -- T-Mobile's plans are, for the most part, still a better value -- but it could help ease their minds about increasing prices and limited choice in a post-merger world.
The pre-paid space has been one of the fastest growing in wireless, and T-Mobile's value-mindedness helped it beat out AT&T by far in the category of pre-paid service (and overall) in Consumer Reports' recent
customer satisfaction survey.
So rather than come in and change things at T-Mobile, as many fear, AT&T would be wise to take notes on T-Mobile's strong points and continue to increase its focus on value in the prepaid space.
— Sarah Reedy, Senior Reporter, Light Reading Mobile