AT&T rebrands GoPhone as AT&T Prepaid, hypes new name with promo

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Target tipped AT&T's hand last month when its website offered refills for AT&T Prepaid service.

AT&T rebranded its prepaid GoPhone offering as AT&T Prepaid, as expected. And it launched a promotion to tout the name change.

Target tipped AT&T’s hand two weeks ago when the retailer’s website offered airtime refills for AT&T Prepaid, which the company noted was formerly the GoPhone brand. AT&T officially announced the move this morning alongside an offer of two free months of service for users who activate and keep the new line of service on select plans.

Customers can receive credit for the third and 12th months. The two eligible plans cost $45 a month for unlimited talk and text with 6 GB of high-speed data, and $65 a month for unlimited talk, text and data. Users with autopay receive a $5 monthly discount.

The plans include service in Canada and Mexico and come with some restrictions: Data speeds are limited to 3 Mbps, video streaming is limited to 15 Mbps at SD quality, and AT&T may slow speeds for users who surpass 22 GB during a billing cycle. Tethering is not supported.

“AT&T Prepaid is our branded prepaid product for customers looking for ease of use, no contract and convenience,” said Bob Bickerstaff, vice president of wireless voice and prepaid products, in the announcement. “This two months free offer is our best promotion to date.”

While GoPhone isn’t a dominant player in the U.S. prepaid market—AT&T's Cricket brand is far larger, for one—the move nonetheless marks a significant change for a venerable name in an increasingly competitive space. The GoPhone brand first came to market in 1987 and has changed hands from McCaw Cellular to AT&T Wireless to Cingular and then to AT&T Mobility during a series of mergers and acquisitions.

GoPhone is sold at thousands of major retail outlets throughout the country, according to fresh data from Wave7 Research, including Walmart, Best Buy, Target and Meijer’s.

And the rebranding illustrates how intense the prepaid battle has become in a broader U.S. market where growth has slowed. That segment has only grown more cutthroat over the last year as Apple has begun to leverage it to increase distribution of its iPhone, as Wave7 Research and the market research firm gap intelligence noted last week.

Meanwhile, T-Mobile, AT&T and Sprint all extended their unlimited data offerings to prepaid in March, and Verizon lowered the pricing for its tiered prepaid plans last month and increased the amount of data available in each plan, complementing its own unlimited prepaid offering.