AT&T Mobility (NYSE:T) is giving customers a new option to pay for their smartphones through its Next installment plan, allowing customers to pay off the cost of their phones in 30 monthly installments instead of 20 or 24 payments.
The new plan, Next 24, will be available starting Nov. 9. Under the plan, customers will be able to trade in their device and upgrade to a new one after 24 monthly payments. The net effect is that customers will pay a lower monthly device fee for their phones (on top of discounted service pricing) but will need to wait longer to upgrade than on the other Next options.
The new Next plan stands next to existing options Next 12 (in which customers pay off the cost of their device via 20 monthly payments and can upgrade after 12) and Next 18 (a 24-month installment plan that allows customers to upgrade after 18 payments).
AT&T customers who choose Next get cheaper service pricing than those who choose the standard subsidized device and two-year contract.
AT&T has been pushing customers to choose Next, and those efforts have been paying off. In the third quarter about half, or 3.4 million, of all the carrier's postpaid smartphone gross adds and upgrades came via AT&T Next, translating to a 50 percent adoption rate, the same as in the second quarter.
However, there are now 20 million customers out of AT&T's postpaid customer base of 75 million who are currently getting discounted service pricing and are eligible to move to Next financing plans but have not yet done so, up from 17 million at the end of the second quarter. AT&T has an incentive to move those customers to Next in order to prevent them from moving to another carrier.
In conjunction with the new Next financing plan, AT&T is offering customers a $150 billing credit if they switch to AT&T and choose Next. The offering echoes a similar $100 billing credit promotion AT&T launched in August that ran through Sept. 30. In order to get the credit customers need to buy a new smartphone online through Next, transfer their number, activate a new line of service and remain active and in good standing for 45 days. It's unclear if the $150 credit is a promotion that will end at a certain date; an AT&T spokesman confirmed the credit is a promotional offer but did not say when it will end.
- see this AT&T release
- see this AT&T page
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