Feature Article

July 16, 2013

Verizon and AT&T to Counter T-Mobile USA Device Plans

One of the realities an aggressive marketing team at T-Mobile USA now is about to discover is the difficulty of sustaining any customer perceived marketing advantage over Verizon Wireless and AT&T Mobility. T-Mobile USA had unveiled “Jump” just a few days ago. Jump allows customers to trade in their existing phone as much as twice a year, with payment of a $10 monthly fee.

That move is part of T-Mobile USA’s “Uncarrier” campaign, designed to position T-Mobile USA as different from AT&T or Verizon Wireless. AT&T already has countered with its own similar program, and Verizon will unveil the details of its new plan shortly.  AT&T “Next,” to be available July 26, allows AT&T customers to buy their devices on installment plans that pay off the device cost in 20 months, as does the T-Mobile USA plan.

But AT&T customers also can upgrade after a year by turning in their old phone and beginning payments on a new phone. Verizon is expected to detail its "VZ Edge" upgrade option in the near future, as well.

Using AT&T Next, a customer buying an Apple iPhone 5 with a retail price of $650 would make monthly payments of $32.50 a month. Under a traditional AT&T two-year contract plan, the same device would cost about $200 upfront.

The shift of all three carriers to new device payment plans will arguably be more transparent and allow customers the freedom to upgrade devices on a more timely basis.

But the moves by Verizon Wireless and AT&T to match the new T-Mobile USA device programs also shows how hard it will be for T-Mobile USA to mount and sustain any marketing initiatives that truly distinguish T-Mobile USA from either AT&T and Verizon Wireless, when those carriers think the new initiatives, offers or retail packaging actually will resonate with customers.

Edited by Ryan Sartor

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