AT&T CEO Says Carriers Can No Longer Foot the Bill for High-End, Subsidized Smartphones
December 11, 2013 10:55 AM
comment(s) - last by
He said carriers need to stop focusing on luring in new subscribers and instead set their sights on getting existing customers to use more of the network
AT&T's CEO recently said that carriers could no longer afford to
pay subsidized prices
for subscribers' new smartphone hardware.
According to a new report from
, AT&T CEO Randall Stephenson told an investor conference in New York City on Tuesday that subsidies for high-end smartphones must end.
More specifically, Stephenson sees smartphone market penetration at 75 percent in the U.S., and it's expected to climb to 90 percent "soon." This kind of growth, he said, means that carriers need to stop focusing on luring in new subscribers and instead set their sights on getting existing customers to use more of the network.
"When you're growing the business initially, you have to do aggressive device subsidies to get people on the network," said Stephenson. "But as you approach 90 percent penetration, you move into maintenance mode. That means more device upgrades. And the model has to change. You can't afford to subsidize devices like that."
Before Apple's iPhone launched in 2007, wireless carriers placed their focus on bringing new subscribers in to the network. Once the iPhone was released, it was made exclusive to AT&T initially, where the carrier offered unlimited data plans through its 3G network as a way of drawing in data-hungry customers who wanted the new iDevice.
In 2010, AT&T was the first carrier to eliminate the unlimited data model and move to tiered plans instead.
Randall Stephenson [SOURCE: phonearena.com]
But the goals have changed for AT&T. Now that the iPhone and other smartphones have flooded the market, it wants to move away from subsidized pricing as a way of building customer growth and instead help customers make better use of its network.
One of the ways it has done this is through its Next plan. This allows customers to purchase a new handset with no money down and pay a monthly fee for 20 months as part of their wireless bill. After one year, the handset can be traded in for an upgrade to newer hardware. From there, a new 20-month cycle starts based on the price of the device.
"If you are a customer and you don't need to upgrade your device, you can get unlimited talk and text and access to the data network for $45 all-in," said Stephenson. "You can use your own device or finance it. I think this will be very powerful. It's where we see the market going."
AT&T also recently
reduced off-contract prices
and changed its base costs for each data tier.
Stephenson added that AT&T will be looking more toward the lower end of the market now that capacity problems have been addressed for the high end (thanks to LTE). Part of the low-end strategy is utilizing its latest purchase of Leap Wireless, a prepaid carrier that AT&T purchased for $1.2 billion back in July of this year.
"You will see us go very aggressively in the prepaid market," said Stephenson.
It seems like AT&T has been watching T-Mobile's latest "UnCarrier" moves. T-Mobile eliminated contracts for reduced cell phone plans in March and was the first to introduce an
early phone upgrade program
in July. Then, in October, it started offering a free unlimited
international text and data plan
More recently, T-Mobile announced Tuesday that it would be dropping down payments for Apple's new iPhone 5S and iPhone 5C handsets, as well as certain iPad models. It's a limited holiday offer, though.
This article is over a month old, voting and posting comments is disabled
RE: Thank you, T-Mobile for bring the United States to the light
12/12/2013 12:55:24 PM
They're already paying the $300 subsidy (or whatever it really is), so that $153/customer-yr is still profit. Taking the subsidy away would suggest that given the same customer-base, AT&T will double their profits annually ($300/2 + $153).
But we all should know that you can't do simple math like this - there are so many unknowns and so many things that affect profits, that this is purely misleading.
I don't think greed is the problem here. I think the issue is that many CEOs have narrow vision and can't see the benefits in a better world where they aren't nickel-and-diming their customers.
"There's no chance that the iPhone is going to get any significant market share. No chance." -- Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer
AT&T Goes After T-Mobile with Reduced Off-Contract Prices, New Base Rates
December 5, 2013, 11:28 AM
T-Mobile Introduces Free Roaming for Unlimited International Text, Data
October 10, 2013, 12:38 PM
T-Mobile Unveils New Jump! Program: Twice Yearly Upgrades for $10/Month
July 10, 2013, 4:56 PM
Microsoft Launches Budget Lumia 640/640 XL; No High-End Devices Until This Fall
March 4, 2015, 9:10 AM
Finished Apple Watch Expected to be Showcased at"Spring Forward" Mar. 9 Event
February 26, 2015, 12:17 PM
Google Preps Pixel 2 ChromeBook, New X Server Replacement "Freon"
February 24, 2015, 11:12 PM
Report: Samsung Semiconductor Bounces Back w/ iPhone SoC and Memory Orders
February 24, 2015, 1:40 PM
Comcast Borrows Apple's Branding Flourishes for Its Remotes
February 24, 2015, 11:32 AM
NVIDIA Bows to Outraged Overclockers, Will Restore Feature in Upcoming Driver
February 23, 2015, 12:30 PM
Most Popular Articles
FCC Bans Data Discrimination, Defies Comcast, Adopting Net Neutrality Regulation
February 26, 2015, 4:03 PM
Google Steps up Snub of Adobe Flash, Auto-Converting Flash Ads to HTML5
February 25, 2015, 6:16 PM
Windows 10 Adds USB 3.1 for Dual-Role Peripherals, External Display Support
February 27, 2015, 11:39 AM
Australian Engineers Successfully Developed 3D-Printed Jet Engines
March 2, 2015, 11:08 AM
Smartphone STD Scanner Dongle Can Detect HIV in Just 15 Minutes
February 26, 2015, 11:04 AM
Latest Blog Posts
Sceptre Airs 27", 120 Hz. 1080p Monitor/HDTV w/ 5 ms Response Time for $220
Dec 3, 2014, 10:32 PM
Costco Gives Employees Thanksgiving Off; Wal-Mart Leads "Black Thursday" Charge
Oct 29, 2014, 9:57 PM
"Bear Selfies" Fad Could Turn Deadly, Warn Nevada Wildlife Officials
Oct 28, 2014, 12:00 PM
The Surface Mini That Was Never Released Gets "Hands On" Treatment
Sep 26, 2014, 8:22 AM
ISIS Imposes Ban on Teaching Evolution in Iraq
Sep 17, 2014, 5:22 PM
More Blog Posts
Copyright 2015 DailyTech LLC. -
Terms, Conditions & Privacy Information