AT&T's CEO says it's time to get customers to use more of the network

AT&T's CEO says it's time to get customers to use more of the network
AT&T CEO Randall Stephenson came forward on Tuesday to say something that others have known for years. The days of carriers paying subsidies so that customers can buy new handsets is coming to an end. Stephenson pointed out that with smartphone penetration in the U.S. at 75% and soon to reach 90%, the goal of the carriers needs to move away from getting people on the network to getting them to use more of the network.

The executive pointed out that AT&T was the first carrier to get rid of unlimited pricing plans, replacing them with shared data plans. Now, 7 out of 10 AT&T customers are using such a plan. Moving to the heart of the matter, Stephenson said that it is not easy trying to get customers to break their habit of buying a new phone every two years. But he said it is worth it because a program like AT&T Next, which offers phones for zero down with monthly installment payments, is a more sustainable way to get smartphones into customers' hands.

Stephenson explained that carriers have built out their networks to increase capacity and have worked hard to get customers to focus on smartphones. Now that traffic is less of an issue, AT&T can start pushing low end models. Turning to AT&T's acquisition of Leap Wireless, the CEO said that AT&T is getting the pre-paid carrier's spectrum and the pre-paid name and business. What is the game plan for AT&T with the purchase of Leap? "You will see us go very aggressively in the prepaid market," said the executive.

source: CNET



29. frustyak

Posts: 249; Member since: Mar 08, 2010

If he want customers to use more of their network, maybe AT&T should disable Wifi on their phones :-)

27. scsa852k

Posts: 331; Member since: Oct 16, 2012

the CEO wants customers to use more of their network, and yet they won't offer the customers unlimited data plan. That makes a lot of sense.

26. frustyak

Posts: 249; Member since: Mar 08, 2010

Walked into Walmart, got my Straight Talk starter kit, now I'm truly only paying $45 per month for unlimited talk, text, and data. My LTE is throttled after 2.5 GB, but I've never come close to the 2.5 GB mark. Not even close to 0.5 GB. AT&T, feel free to give me a call when you can match that. No contract. Then we'll talk.

21. GrndsKeeprWillie

Posts: 14; Member since: Jul 15, 2013

Umm, where's that $45 plan this CEO is referring to? I might not feel like I leaving Att everyday, if they actually had a plan this cheap.

23. pradeepreddy

Posts: 65; Member since: Apr 01, 2013

it's the new mobile share value plan, where you bring your own device & $25 for unl. talk& text + $20 for 300MB data & it's month-month.

25. GrndsKeeprWillie

Posts: 14; Member since: Jul 15, 2013

Ohh yeah. Just found it on their website. Thanks. I guess I just breezed over it since it's such a conservative plan. I could use it if it included 500mb but 300 is currently too close. Also it seems to be a play on words in the quoted statement above it mentions -- "you can get unlimited talk and text and access to the data network for $45 all-in" --not completely true

15. iyngr

Posts: 72; Member since: Jul 14, 2013

Am done with ATT and their devices. No more unlocks for ATT as people would used to b4. Fu ATT

14. superfans

Posts: 155; Member since: Jul 30, 2012

Wow.... Took you how long to realize that ?

12. toiletcleaner

Posts: 224; Member since: Oct 10, 2012

This guy is funny. Better then Jim Carry because he dont use the mask

11. xtroid2k

Posts: 601; Member since: Jan 11, 2010

CEO john legere is not an innovative individual. Just a marketing genious. John understand s that getting customers is all about how you position certain concepts. 1. T-Mobile has done away with two year contracts. - while you no longer have to sign a contract, the carrier still hooks the customer for 24mos with a payment subsidy to your bill 2. The carrier has has done away with ETF - Yes there are no longer etf's due to contracts being discontinued however more then likely u will have to finish paying off your device on your final bill which depending on how long u have been paying will be. Less as the months go by. VZW and ATT charge a highly reduced price for locking u into a two year contract. They don't tell you that your paying for the device in the higher price tag buy you are. As the months go by your ETF is smaller because more of this supposed cost of the device has been obsorbed by you the customer. So the one thing I have to give to is unlimited data across multiple countries and that is nothing to stare past. Also they have great CS and a good selection of phones which is why I went with them.

20. Bilpocalypse

Posts: 301; Member since: Oct 13, 2012

The funny part is... The remaining cost of the phone is higher than what the etf would be on a contract plan. I'd rather stick with contract plans or buy my phones outright instead.

22. cripton805

Posts: 1485; Member since: Mar 18, 2012

Exactly, and with their new finance plans, they actually make money on the phone and on top of that, you end up paying for finance charges. ETF > Financed or full price phones. They could have easily kept it just the way it was and just allow you to bring your own phone over without signing a 2 year contract, but they know they will make a lot more money this way.

8. cjjohnson86

Posts: 29; Member since: Jan 05, 2012

I'm sticking with Tmo thank you!!!!

7. E.S.1

Posts: 308; Member since: Sep 14, 2013

I think this CEO should call T-mobiles CEO John Legere and learn from him.

6. Jeradiah3

Posts: 1149; Member since: Feb 11, 2010

More network means More $$$ because you're asking us to increase our bill with the AT&T Next program. I know that they're trying to get people away from upgrading every 2 years, but there are times where thats a good thing. We dont live in a world where we can just add money to our monthly bill because we want the hottest and/or best selling phones!! I love the Note 3, but Im not adding $35/month to my bill for it!!! They can keep AT&T Next, Mobile Share, and all of that crap..............and my wife and I will stay with the plan we've had for a couple of years now.

5. dspkblympkbl

Posts: 52; Member since: May 23, 2013

Who is this actually good for? Nobody needs a new phone every six months. That'll just flood the market with tons of second hand devices.

13. Sniggly

Posts: 7305; Member since: Dec 05, 2009

Not quite, because when you want to buy the new phone in a yearish, you have to trade in the old phone. If you want to keep the old phone you have to wait till the normal upgrade point. There are no savings here for consumers. The carriers, including T-Mobile, have not made smartphones cheaper than in the past to own. All they've done is make it more visible to us what our smartphones cost. This is why Project Ara/Phonebloks could be coming in at just the right time, because people are not going to want to have to finance phones like they're freaking cars, if they can simply upgrade parts of the phones instead.

18. troutsy

Posts: 384; Member since: Feb 17, 2012

There are plenty of people with cracked screens on their iPhones that should be in the market for a new phone.

3. ckoch125

Posts: 193; Member since: Oct 29, 2012

So plans will actually decrease since the subsidy will no longer be in contracts? Yeah right they will slightly decrease the price so it isn't even noticeable..

2. elaizon

Posts: 3; Member since: Nov 18, 2013

I agree with sniggly

1. Sniggly

Posts: 7305; Member since: Dec 05, 2009

You want people to use the network? Bring back unlimited data or give us caps that make on network usage worthwhile, you greedy sons of beaches.

4. Reluctant_Human

Posts: 914; Member since: Jun 28, 2012

The basic gist of all that article is "we're going to milk the crap out of customers with our data plans while at the same time start making money on our retail phone sales".

9. Berzerk000

Posts: 4275; Member since: Jun 26, 2011

Seriously, all carriers need to bring back some form of unlimited data. I love Verizon's coverage, but one thing I'll always miss from T-Mobile was their unlimited data. When I was in a 4G covered area with T-Mobile, I could just do whatever without worrying about it very quickly. Now, I have to monitor my usage because I only have 6 GB of data, which is almost useless because not even a month has passed and I've already taken up 19 GB on Wifi.

10. Dingy_cellar_dweller

Posts: 339; Member since: Mar 16, 2013

Use more of the network is code for pay more for use of the network.

16. tedkord

Posts: 17529; Member since: Jun 17, 2009

You misunderstand. By use more of the network, he means buy higher data caps. Pay more. Oh, and pay full price for your phone, too.

17. Sniggly

Posts: 7305; Member since: Dec 05, 2009

Because he totally doesn't expect people to move to cheaper carriers. There's a cost level at which better reception doesn't matter anymore.

19. AstronautJones

Posts: 305; Member since: Aug 01, 2012

EXACTLY! T Mo is looking better every day. My contract will be up around time for the upgrade from Note 2 to the Note 4. Might as well switch then

24. tedkord

Posts: 17529; Member since: Jun 17, 2009

And they are clearly nowhere near it, as Sprint continues to shrink and T-Mo continues to be a perpetual fourth place. Of course there is a cost level that people won't cross.

28. mikel45365

Posts: 10; Member since: Feb 07, 2009

to be fair, they're virtually giving away talk and text as apart of the deal

Latest Stories

This copy is for your personal, non-commercial use only. You can order presentation-ready copies for distribution to your colleagues, clients or customers at or use the Reprints & Permissions tool that appears at the bottom of each web page. Visit for samples and additional information.
FCC OKs Cingular's purchase of AT&T Wireless