AT&T (NYSE: T) today said that it will reduce the number of equipment installment plans (EIP) it offers from four to two. The two remaining plans, AT&T Next and AT&T Next Every Year, essentially will allow customers to upgrade to a new phone either every two years (Next) or ever year (Next Every Year).
"Customers can choose a lower monthly payment or a quicker upgrade," via the new plans, AT&T said. The new plans will be available starting June 9.
Under AT&T's new Next two-year plan, eligible customers will pay off their smartphones through a 30-month financing program that doesn't require a down payment and doesn't include interest costs. They will be able to upgrade to a new phone after 24 months or after 80 percent of the retail cost of their phone has been paid off, and if they trade in their existing device. So, for example, customers could pay off a $749.99 phone for $25 per month over the course of 30 months, or upgrade to a new device after 24 months.
And under AT&T's Next Every year plan, eligible customers will pay off their smartphones through a 24-month financing program that doesn't require a down payment and doesn't include interest. They will be able to upgrade to a new phone after 12 months or after 50 percent of the retail cost of their phone has been paid off, and if they trade in their existing device. So, for example, customers could pay off a $749.99 phone for $31.25 per month over the course of 24 months, or upgrade to a new device after 12 months.
Importantly, AT&T noted that customers can trade in their existing device and have the value of that gadget applied toward their new phone, or they can simply make a down payment on the phone for any amount -- that down payment would be subtracted from their monthly EIP payments.
As the Verge notes, AT&T's new options will replace the carrier's current Next 12, Next 18, Next 24, and Next with Down Payment EIP plans, which essential allow customers to pay of their devices over the course of several different increments of time. In general, the longer the amount of time, the smaller the monthly cost.
AT&T's announcement comes a few days after the carrier quietly started adding accessories to its EIP options. AT&T is only offering EIP pricing on accessories through its retail stores, and customers can only purchase one accessory per phone number or two per account. The offering only covers accessories priced between $149 and $400.
It's no surprise AT&T is putting focus on its Next plans. The carrier said that fully 90 percent of its postpaid smartphone sales in the first quarter used its Next plans.
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