AT&T has been the number two carrier for quite some time now, right behind Verizon, and way ahead of Sprint and T-Mobile (which is a big reason why Masayoshi Son wants to combine T-Mobile and Sprint). While AT&T has always had some pretty big subscriber gains every quarter, it appears that Q2 2014 is going to be their largest since Q4 2009, and we’re talking post-paid here, not pre-paid and post-paid combined. On Tuesday, it was mentioned that they might be adding 800,000 post-paid customers this quarter. They haven’t added that many since Q4 2009, but what was so special about Q4 2009? Well AT&T still had the exclusive on the iPhone at that point. About 6 months later it ended up in Verizon’s hands as well, so the exclusivity ended.
About 50% of the post-paid additions are on discounted plans, which the carrier expects to rise over the next few months. Lately, AT&T has really been trying to compete with T-Mobile’s Uncarrier tactics. In fact they made it so you could get a family of four with 10GB of data for just $160/month. Now that might sound like a lot, but it’s a lot cheaper than it was before on AT&T, and cheaper than it currently is on Verizon.
However, AT&T does have an issue here. With so many people jumping on AT&T NEXT, it’s actually costing AT&T more money. While they are saving more money by not having to subsidize smartphones, the savings is less than the discount that customers get for using AT&T NEXT instead of subsidizing their smartphone. Which leads me to believe that subsidizing isn’t going anywhere for AT&T, and probably the other carriers as well, anytime soon. Which kind of sucks, but not much we can do about that.
It’s great to see carriers adding a ton of new customers, let’s just hope that AT&T didn’t lose a ton of money, because everything T-Mobile has kind of forced them to do in the past year has really benefited the consumer and we don’t want that to end.