AT&T extends device upgrade period from 20 months to two years

By on June 10, 2013, 7:30 AM
verizon, att, contract, upgrade period, service agreement

AT&T on Sunday extended their hardware upgrade cycle to a 24 month qualification period. Effective June 9, 2013, anyone with a contract that ends on or after March 1, 2014 is affected and the policy applies to all devices sold by the telecom.

The new 24-month period applies to all new customers moving forward with the exception of Corporate Responsible Users – their contract upgrade terms won’t change. Previously, AT&T customers were required to wait only 20 months in order to qualify for a full subsidy.

In a blog post on the matter, AT&T said the changes will align device upgrade eligibility with their standard two-year wireless agreement.

It was only a matter of time before AT&T extended the wait time for a full upgrade, however, as Verizon announced a similar move back in April. What’s more, the telecom offered virtually the same explanation for doing so – saying the change would better align with the terms of a typical two-year agreement. With Verizon, the changes affected anyone with a contract that ended on or after January 2014.

Both carriers allow customers to share upgrades on their account so long as they are within the same device category. For example, a user can upgrade a phone to another phone or a tablet to another tablet but not a phone to a tablet.

AT&T says that after six months of a two-year contract, customers qualify for a partial discount off the full retail price. Alternately, users can elect to purchase a phone at full price anytime or bring a GSM-compatible handset from another carrier and use it at their leisure.

User Comments: 8

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1 person liked this | Loukin Loukin said:

T-Mobile or these other pre-paid companies are just looking better and better.

soldier1969 soldier1969 said:

This Fall will probably be my last time doing a contract plan on AT&T. As I'm waiting on the Note 3 release. The prepaid phones mostly are limited and not the high end like I'm used to. But the costs involved and now this change may make me move to prepaid unlimited the next time around.

p51d007 said:

I went off contract in Oct 2012, been with Straight Talk since. Yeah, couple of spots where the coverage isn't that good, but it's out in the sticks....

I'd rather pay full price for a phone, and NOT be under contract.

treeski treeski said:

I don't like being on contract, but why pay full price for a phone when you're going to have to pay the same service fees anyway?

cliffordcooley cliffordcooley, TechSpot Paladin, said:

I believe I have mixed feelings about this. As much as I would like an upgrade more frequently, I do not feel cellular providers are responsible for upgrading more frequently than we make contracts. The whole point in the free phone is to provide a device for use of a service. The contract pays for a phone based on a term of service. Long story short, by allowing a new contract the original contract suffers a profit loss. A term is in place to make sure that all expenses are paid, through out the length of the contract. Shortening contracts would risk unbalanced expenditures.

Seems to me the title should have been more along the lines of "AT&T lengthens upgrade period to match contract term". But then I've only glanced over the subject, perhaps there is more I don't realize.

Guest said:

cliffordcooley, so what you're saying is that companies created a two year contact with intent to recoup the subsidy within that time frame, but allow people to upgrade/replace contacts at 20 months in, whereby not paying for the remaining 4 month, and in-turn causing the companies to lose 4 months of monies they initially anticipated on?

If the above is true in your opinion, you must be pretty happy in your own little perfect world; because I highly doubt that companies would EVER be on a losing end of a contact.

Spykezxp Spykezxp said:

Maybe this will bring the overall monthly bill down, but probably not. I've been an At&t wireless customer since the late 90's (Cingular Wireless), and I was wondering why they didn't go this route sooner. It just makes sense to have the Upgrade cycle match the Contract cycle. Yes some people are going to be upset with this change, but maybe some good will come of it. You never know...

cliffordcooley cliffordcooley, TechSpot Paladin, said:

If the above is true in your opinion, you must be pretty happy in your own little perfect world; because I highly doubt that companies would EVER be on a losing end of a contact.
It's funny how you would come to that conclusion, and place me in a perfect world. I do not see this world as perfect, and would never accuse others as living in a perfect world.

Without knowing for sure; I would ponder a guess that the main idea behind allowing an upgrade, before a contract is over, is an attempt to keep the consumer trapped in a contract. Before a contract has ended, the consumer is limited to options only available within the contract. Once the contract has ended, the consumer is free to shop around. There are pros and cons to both methods for both sides of the contract, which is why I stated in the previous post I had mixed feelings.

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