In response to T-Mobile US’s recently-launched ‘Jump’ programme, which allows customers to upgrade their mobile device twice every 12 months for an additional fee, AT&T will launch a similar scheme on 26 July that allows for more frequent upgrades than is possible with traditional two-year contracts.
Dubbed AT&T Next, customers pay back the cost of their new smartphone or tablet in monthly payments– about five per cent of the device’s unsubsidised price – giving them the option of trading in their device for a later model after 12 months. The monthly payments are then reset back to zero. No down payments are required.
AT&T Next customers can keep their old device if they make 20 monthly payments (or sooner if payments are higher than the minimum set).
Rumours have also surfaced that Verizon Wireless, the biggest mobile operator in the US, will soon launch ‘VZ Edge’, a scheme that reportedly mimics the pricing of T-Mobile’s Jump programme. Like Jump, VZ Edge will apparently charge customers a $10 monthly fee to give them the option of two device upgrades every 12 months.
John Legere, chief executive of self-styled ‘uncarrier’ T-Mobile US, is clearly ruffling the feathers of an industry he called “stupid”, “broken” and “arrogant” at the launch of the Jump programme.
Referring to the mobile industry’s standard “one upgrade every two years” strategy, Legere proclaimed: “Customers think it’s crazy, I think it’s crazy. Contracts and limitations work for carriers, they don’t work for you. It is all about greed — it’s better for carriers than it is for you…Two years is too long to wait. 730 days of waiting. 730 days of watching new phones come out that you can’t have. 730 days of living with a cracked screen.”
After the new handset upgrade schemes from his rivals came to light, Legere couldn’t resist having another dig, tweeting: “I love watching the other carriers respond to what T-Mobile does instead of ever responding to what their customers want.”
Sprint, the third-largest operator in the US, has yet to announce a handset upgrade programme, but has unveiled a guarantee of unlimited data for the lifetime of customers’ accounts.