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AT&T announced some new shared family plans this week. And I’ve been debating on whether or not to call them out on it for the past day or two. It’s hard not to find criticism when looking at the carrier’s efforts at “competing” with T-Mobile. Despite having a larger subscriber base, it clearly feels threatened by Tmo’s moves this year, and – not for the first time – has unveiled new plans aimed at portraying themselves as offering better value plans. And in some cases, they are. In others, they aren’t. Not by a long shot.
Unsurprisingly, the move got some reaction from T-Mobile execs. Andrew Sherrard, magenta’s marketing exec, emailed CNET stated that the “‘me-too’ off-contract rate plan misses the mark.”
The truth is – that for AT&T customers – they are better deals. The smartphone fee is $40 per month for each contract smartphone. For non-contract smartphones, the monthly fee is a flat-rate of $25 per device each month to share the plan. It certainly beats the old sliding scale for AT&T customers. So at least they’re better for “Big Blue” users.
Compared to Tmo, Sherrard is right in that they miss the mark. He even stated:
“After you do the complicated math, in multiple cases, these new plans are actually a price hike for customers”
A family of four – for example – could save $600 in the first year with the T-Mobile Simple Choice plan. Both Tmo and Sprint still offer better value deals. So exactly what is AT&T trying to do here? Give the illusion of value, while keeping a tight grip on profit margins? Trying to tempt people away from jumping ship to T-Mobile? They certainly won’t tempt T-Mobile’s customers to jump the other way.
With AT&T Next earlier in the year, the company had already shown that it was happy to pretend at copying Tmo with its $0 down EIP strategy. And yet, they were clearly nowhere near as attractive to consumers as T-Mobile’s own plans. Tmo added more subscribers to its ranks than AT&T for the past 2 quarters. So the question is: Is AT&T worried about Tmo’s threat? They say not.
“We see competitors on our left and on our right,” said AT&T representative Mark Siegel. “We’re really focused straight ahead on what our customers are asking for.”
AT&T not focussed on T-Mobile? Hence why it tried to buy the company for just under $40 billion a couple of years ago. I don’t know, to me, AT&T’s plans not only seem more complicated, but a little too much like wolves in sheep’s clothing.
If you want the best response to this, you should almost certainly scroll through John Legere’s Twitter feed. It’s always entertaining. Well played, John.