T-Mobile CEO John Legere. (T-Mobile Photo)
T-Mobile CEO John Legere. (T-Mobile Photo)

AT&T plans to offer a credit to T-Mobile customers who switch to AT&T — jabbing at its smaller rival and attempting to get out ahead of T-Mobile’s rumored plans to do the same thing to AT&T and other wireless carriers at a news conference scheduled for next week in Las Vegas.

[Update, Friday morning: AT&T confirms $200 ‘switcher credit’ for T-Mobile customers]

GeekWire learned this information from a knowledgeable source today. We’ve contacted both companies for comment. The credit from AT&T is expected to be as much as $200, and from what we’re hearing, it’s not expected to be offered to Sprint or Verizon customers. The credit would be in addition to up to $250 of the trade-in value of the switcher’s old device, under AT&T’s existing trade-in program.

The move by AT&T would appear to be a pre-emptive strike. The independent TmoNews site, citing two separate tips, reported Dec. 20 that T-Mobile may offer a rebate valued at up to $350 to customers who switch from competing carriers, to cover the cost of their early termination fees. Part of the rebate would come from the trade-in value of their devices.

AT&T’s plan is the latest sign of the escalating rivalry between the companies, which at one point were on a path to merge their operations, before U.S. regulators nixed AT&T’s proposed acquisition of T-Mobile. Among other things, AT&T’s move would illustrate just how much of a thorn in its side T-Mobile has become under the leadership of CEO John Legere, who frequently jabs at the larger rival, as in this tweet and picture.

 

Bellevue-based T-Mobile last year moved away from traditional phone subsidies for consumers and unbundled the cost of the phone from the wireless plan — lowering the cost of the wireless service and reducing the overall bill after the phone is paid in full. Among other initiatives, the company introduced a $10/month subscription program called JUMP that lets customers upgrade to new phones more frequently without penalty.

T-Mobile has been steadily adding customers with what it describes as its “UnCarrier” approach. In many cases, T-Mobile’s moves have forced AT&T and other carriers to follow suit, and in this situation AT&T appears to be attempting to get out ahead of things.

If AT&T can successfully do that with the rebate plan, this situation would also show the risk of Legere’s outspoken approach. For a few weeks now, he has been teasing the company’s expected “UnCarrier 4.0″ announcement, set for next week at CES, making it clear that something big is afoot — and giving AT&T a chance to do something first.

Stay tuned, we’ll post more as the official details emerge.

Comments

  • scb1898

    Love me some T-Mobile. Now improve your signal’s building penetration.

    • Charmed79

      Would also be nice if the places they list as 4G wouldn’t be running Gprs instead! They do not seem to care! Which is why they will never be in first.

    • Kartik Rishi

      Isn’t building penetration simply a factor of the radio frequencies they use? Hence why AT&T’s 700Mhz band tends to work well in buildings due to the physics of radio frequencies.

      • scb1898

        I believe you’re correct.

    • closingracer

      And horrible customer service … Might of be good now but lost a customer for life because as of 5 years ago it sucked Badly

  • Nick

    T-Mobile, I love you, but having Edge in 90% of the country, where Verizon has 3G at the very least and more than likely 4G…c’mon, That’s what needs to get fixed. They essentially only matter to people who live in large metro areas. 250,000+ at least.

    • closingracer

      What you expect? They were dead last in offering 3G and as well with real 4G as well I believe ( They invented the Faux 4G crap to begin with )

  • http://WiredPen.com/ kegill

    You know, if AT&T (and T-Mobile) would spend all that time/effort/resources on improving service … they’d stand a better chance of getting new customers. Or keeping their existing ones.

  • ccnet005

    Interesting how this will play out.
    It looks like Tmo woke up the giant.

  • SuicideNinja

    AT&T = A Trap. If you are going to spend over $100 a month, I’d much rather go with Verizon. T-Mobile works great for me. Verizon would be my 2nd choice for personal (already use it for work).

  • broomhandle

    laughing. I’m switching from At&T over a decade to T-mobile for two reasons
    1. AT&T’s service disappoints me so much in the last 12 months. I had to call in so frequently to correct the billing. last week AT&T refunded me $80 for an overcharge – luckily I caught it.
    2. T-mobile provides data and txt msg around the world without extra pay. That is a great convenience to me.

    To me, the policy set by AT&T now is “screwing and locking the clients” instead of serving the clients. If its service is any thing from half way decent, I won’t switch after a decade with AT&T.

  • http://www.geo-tel.com/ GeoTel

    Money talks. This is a great way to get people to terminate their contracts with other providers. The biggest problem is T-Mobile’s coverage map really is smaller than the other major providers.

  • pwarn

    Been with Tmobile for over 12 years, with the new year and cutting back cost was going to suspend service for a couple of months while catching up from Xmas bills…so I just called Tmobile, told them about this deal and they did give me a $50 credit to apply towards next month so I can have my phone for a month more….which is not much but considering the comments about AT&T, I’ll stick with Tmobile even if I can’t get a signal when traveling through NO Where’s, Alabama!! (that’s a joke…:)….)

  • Sam

    Bad news for T-Mobile because of its weak network problems, I will be one of those switching, the only thing is AT&T doesn’t have any unlimited data plans but I’d take a $450 credit and A+ network.

  • Viet Nguyen

    Switched to T-Mobile this year after being a 12-year AT&T customer. Traveled overseas last month and the free international data roaming kicked in automagically. Amazing. No worries. No having to get a local SIM card. No having to figure out international rate plans. Keep up the great work, TMO!

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