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AT&T is struggling against T-Mobile’s onslaught

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AT&T is struggling to attract more all-important postpaid customers than its competitors, according to its latest financial report. While it added 2.8 million new wireless customers in the last three months overall, only 526,000 of them were postpaid, down more than 38-percent from the year before. It’s these customers that are considered the bread and butter of the wireless industry, as they pay a flat rate for texts, calls, and data each month.

Worse still, AT&T was the only carrier to lose postpaid customers, according to BTIG analyst Walt Piecyk. Arch rival T-Mobile, for example, added 917,000 postpaid phone customers, or 1.3 million in total, during the same period.

T-Mobile is well known for its aggressive pricing and promotional activities. For a while now, it has been tempting AT&T and Verizon customers away with discounts on iPhones, a free year of Hulu, and cheaper contracts. Not to be left out, Sprint also joined the battle with its half price deal, which it extended earlier in the month. It’s not surprising AT&T has had a difficult few months. The affect of this has lowered the company’s wireless revenue to $18.9 billion, a nearly 5-percent fall from the same period in 2014.

AT&T’s not giving up, and there are some bright spots in its report. It added 469,000 prepaid customers in the fourth quarter, the highest out of all four major carriers. That took the total to 1.4 million for the full year, split between AT&T’s subsidiaries Cricket and GoPhone. It also has a new weapon to take on the T-Mobile threat, and pull back some postpaid customers — the revival of its unlimited data plans. Apparently, 500,000 eligible customers have already signed up.

Finally, it has also added a million connected car installations, showing its push into the automotive world is really taking off. It plans to connect 10 million cars in the next five years, thanks to a new partnership with Ford.

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David Curry
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