AT&T To End 2-Year Phone Contracts

As of next week, AT&T customers who want new cellphones will have to update their devices by paying the full retail prices upfront or through monthly installment plans. That's because the carrier is doing away with its previous program that offered new phones to customers who signed two-year contracts for AT&T service.

First reported by Engadget yesterday, the change was confirmed today by an AT&T spokesperson who told us, "Starting January 8, AT&T Next will be the primary way to get a new smartphone at AT&T." The spokesperson added that the change doesn't apply to business customers with qualified wireless service agreements.

AT&T introduced Next in July 2013. Under the program, customers can get new smartphones or tablets every year by making 12 monthly payments and then upgrading, or they can keep their AT&T devices after they make installment payments for 20 months.

'Pricing Simplification Effort'

Mobile carriers have gradually moved away from the two-year phone contract model over the past couple of years, and Sprint, T-Mobile and Verizon no longer offer such options. As Quartz noted today, "AT&T is the last major wireless carrier to eliminate the two-year pricing model."

Yesterday Engadget posted an internal document it claimed AT&T had sent to employees earlier that day announcing the end of two-year contracts.

The document, headlined "What's Changing," told AT&T employees to "[e]xpect more information about this topic . . . during the week of January 4, 2016." Additionally, the document noted, "Effective January 8, 2016, AT&T will launch a pricing simplification effort for device purchase options and pricing plans across all channels."

After that date, the only purchase options for customers would be either paying the full retail prices of the smartphones upfront or agreeing to installment plans under AT&T Next, according to the document. The company also plans to...

Comments are closed.