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US Carrier’s Report Cards 2014: AT&T Wireless

December 19, 2014 - Written By Alexander Maxham

AT&T has somewhat of a quiet year in 2014. They didn’t make too many headlines when you compare them with T-Mobile’s whole Uncarrier thing, the Sprint/T-Mobile attempted merger, and all the stuff Verizon has gotten into this year. But AT&T has had a pretty good year themselves. Bringing down prices, bringing in more devices, more customers, and improving their network. Let’s have a look.

Network/Coverage

AT&T’s network is pretty darn good. It’s not as good as Verizon, but you wouldn’t expect it to be. They are number two in coverage right behind Verizon. However, I did notice this year that their speeds started to go down. It looks like all those stuck on a pre-4G LTE iPhone finally upgraded this year (Remember AT&T had the exclusive on the iPhone through the first 3 and half years). AT&T has been working to increase capacity though, as have all the other carriers this year.

Customer Additions

AT&T had some decent quarters this year, in the first quarter, they added 625,000 customers, in the second quarter that jumped to “more than 1 million”, and in Q3 it was 785,000. So not the Verizon and T-Mobile numbers we saw this year, but still nothing to sneeze at. Definitely a few good quarters here for AT&T so far in 2014.

Device Availability

AT&T has always had a knack for getting exclusive devices. Just look at the iPhone up until the iPhone 4. And that continued this year with the Galaxy S5 Active, Galaxy Mega, HTC Desire Eye, and a few other devices. Not to mention other flagships like the Galaxy S5, Galaxy Note 4, HTC One M8, LG G3 and more. Definitely had plenty of choices for customers in all price ranges, which is a good thing from a carrier.

Price Plans

This year, AT&T really lowered their pricing on their plans, and we have to think that it’s due to T-Mobile. They lowered a lot of users bills by almost half. Which is a big deal for AT&T. Because they don’t really need to compete with T-Mobile due to the differences in their networks. We’re going to look at their site, and use the 3GB plan, as that’s probably the most popular. And check out how much it is on AT&T Next and on contract for a Galaxy Note 4. On contract (paying $299 for a subsidized Galaxy Note 4), it’s going to cost us $80/month. On AT&T Next 18, it’ll cost us $99.82. And you’ll be able to upgrade sooner as well. So not bad actually, compared to a year ago.

Overall Grades

Network/Coverage – B

Customer Additions – B

Device Availability – A

Price Plans – B

Overall Grade – B

AT&T does pretty well in all four of these categories here. Although I’d like to see their prices get a bit more competitive and see their network improve a bit more. Especially in populous areas like Chicago. Otherwise, there’s not much else that AT&T really needs to change, in my opinion.