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Following in Verizon’s footsteps, AT&T is raising its activation and upgrade fees

Why it matters to you

AT&T's decision to increase how much it charges subscribers to upgrade or activate a device may signal a new trend among providers.

If you don’t like what AT&T just did to its upgrade and activation fees, perhaps you can blame Verizon. Proving just how much the major phone carriers are in lockstep with one another — especially when it means getting us to pay more — AT&T has followed in the footsteps of Big Red, and is upping the ante on how much it charges if you want to upgrade or activate a device. Beginning Friday, you’re looking at a $25 charge, up from $20. A spokesman for AT&T has confirmed the change, saying simply that the carrier is “making a minor adjustment.”

Just a few weeks ago, Verizon made a similar decision, though it raised its fees by a larger margin, from $20 to $30. Verizon has recently been making quite a few announcements that have left customers less than thrilled, including effectively cutting off unlimited subscribers.

Both AT&T and Verizon may want to be careful about just how upset they’re making their customers. After all, T-Mobile and Sprint are both gaining on the two pack leaders, claiming increased market share. Verizon, on the other hand, lost 36,000 postpaid net phone subscribers in the third quarter of 2016, while AT&T lost 268,000 postpaid phone customers during the same period. That makes it the eighth consecutive quarter in which AT&T has delivered bad news in that regard.

It doesn’t look as though AT&T is interested in competing against other carriers for just any customers. Rather, as Fierce Wireless reports, the Dallas-headquartered company is more focused on keeping its “high-end users,” and “monetizing them as effectively as possible.” While it’s unclear precisely how it’s doing that, it seems to be working — despite the loss in postpaid phone customers in the third quarter of 2016, it posted revenues of $40 billion, representing a 4.6 percent increase.