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'Competition has sharpened for the holidays, but is balanced, with premium unlimited and/or three years of unlimited required for top deals,' wrote Wave7 Research analyst Jeff Moore of US operators' pricing strategies.
November 27, 2023
According to some financial analysts, AT&T and Comcast are the wireless providers offering the sweetest holiday deals.
That's important because the degree of aggressiveness in a company's promotions likely reflects that company's desire to win customers. However, the overall results of competition in the US wireless industry likely won't be clear until January, when AT&T, Comcast and the rest of the nation's wireless providers report their fourth quarter financial results.
Moreover, according to most analysts, the overall level of competition this year isn't much different from last year.
"By and large, this year's Black Friday promotions follow what is a familiar script," wrote the financial analysts at MoffettNathanson in a recent note to investors Monday. "AT&T is the industry's most promotional player, and their YoY [year-over-year] increases are, perhaps predictably, the largest. Verizon and T-Mobile continue to be more restrained, offering their richest promotions only to high-end customers. While their premium offers have gotten richer, they have pulled back on their entry-level offers. The net isn't much different than a year ago."
"Competition has sharpened for the holidays, but is balanced, with premium unlimited and/or three years of unlimited required for top deals," wrote Wave7 Research analyst Jeff Moore in a recent report. Wave7 closely tracks pricing and promotions in the US wireless industry.
Coming out swinging
In their report, the MoffettNathanson analysts cited data from price-tracking company Navi. They found that AT&T continues to offer discounts to new and existing customers across all of its pricing plans. Verizon and T-Mobile, meanwhile, are offering discounts mostly on their more expensive phones and on their costlier service plans.
The analysts also pointed to cable company Comcast as a mover this year. They wrote that the company's promotions aren't as aggressive as those from the likes of AT&T, T-Mobile and Verizon, but that they're more aggressive than those from Charter Communications and their own offers last year.
"Comcast's promotionality increases come at a time when Comcast is promising to ratchet up their aggressiveness in wireless," they wrote.
Wave7 reported that Comcast is pitching a free line of unlimited mobile service for two years when customers couple that with Comcast's Internet service. "Cableco competition is sharper this year," Moore wrote.
But the offers from AT&T and Comcast aren't the only ones out there.
For example, according to the financial analysts at TD Cowen, T-Mobile's offers include four lines for $100 per month, alongside some deals that include a free iPhone 15 with a trade-in.
Separately, one of Verizon's discounts provides a free iPhone 15 Pro (on its Unlimited Ultimate plan), together with an iPad and Apple Watch, according to the analysts. Verizon, for its part, has promised a return to growth in its consumer business in the fourth quarter.
Verizon's prepaid brand, Visible, is also offering a discounted service plan, according to reports.
"There were some attractive phone offers in the market over Black Friday as the operators look to stimulate switching activity," summarized the financial analysts at Wells Fargo in a note to investors this weekend. "While these are certainly some juicy offers, we do question whether they will have much impact on Q4 volumes given customer upgrade rates remain stubbornly low. The upshot, of course, is that a more limited switching pool has helped shore up profitability / cash flow for the carriers, perhaps more important than 'volumes' themselves."
Editorial Director, 5G & Mobile Strategies, Light Reading
Based in Denver, Mike has covered the wireless industry as a journalist for almost two decades, first at RCR Wireless News and then at FierceWireless and recalls once writing a story about the transition from black and white to color screens on cell phones.
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