AT&T Offers Customers New and Old $100 to Add a Line

AT&T is offering $100 to those who add a line of service to their contracts. Mobile data is now a $23 billion annual revenue stream for the carrier.

AT&T, saying it wants to reward loyal customers and attract new ones, has announced an offer of a $100 credit to customers who add an additional line of service to their bills. That can mean a new smartphone, tablet, mobile hotspot or wireless home phone line.

The offer will end March 31.

"Customers want the best of both worlds from their wireless carrier … great value on their plans and service on a phenomenal network, and AT&T provides both," AT&T Chief Marketing Officer David Christopher said in a Jan. 29 statement.

The incentive comes a day after AT&T announced the results of its 2013 fourth quarter, which closed Dec. 31. AT&T posted its lowest-ever churn rate and added 1.2 million new postpaid smartphones to its network and 566,000 new wireless postpaid customers.

Despite bringing in new subscribers more slowly than it used to (it added 780,000 postpaid subscribers during the fourth quarter of 2013), AT&T has succeeded in bringing in more dollars.

Compared with the same quarter a year ago, AT&T's consolidated revenue was up 1.8 percent, to $33.2 billion; its wireless service revenue was up 4.5 percent, to $18.4 billion; and its wireless data revenue was up 16.8 percent, to $5.7 billion.

"Strong wireless revenue growth was driven by the network strength and data-hungry smartphones and tablets," AT&T CEO Randall Stephenson said during the earnings call. "Data is now a $23 billion annualized revenue stream, and it's continuing to grow."

AT&T recently also offered T-Mobile customers potentially up to $450 per line to switch to AT&T, and several days later T-Mobile offered the subscribers of all tier-one rival networks up to $650 a line to switch to its network.

Such "un-carrier" moves, as T-Mobile calls them, are primarily to blame for the slowed pace of AT&T's new customer additions, Technology Business Research said in a Jan. 28 report, but they're something of a temporary annoyance.

"AT&T will outlast T-Mobile's recent comeback as T-Mobile focuses primarily on attracting cost-conscious smartphone subscribers to its Simple Choice plans," analyst Eric Costa wrote in the report. "As wireless revenue growth shifts towards the connected device segment, and away from smartphones, T-Mobile's strategy will not be as effective against AT&T."

While TBR expects AT&T to keep adding postpaid customers through the first half of 2014, it doesn't expect Next or other offers made in response to T-Mobile to halt T-Mobile's "surge" of new customers, wrote Costa.

"Additional changes will need to be made to increase subscriber retention in order to recapture the second-highest postpaid net additions from T-Mobile in 2014," Costa added.

AT&T's Stephenson said during the earnings call that 2013 had been an "interesting" year for the industry and "probably a formative year." Pointing to AT&T's investments in the connected car, in the cloud, and in home and security services, he added, "We have a number of new services that will begin to move the needle this year."

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