The copycat nature of the wireless industry continues

by: William Neilson JrJuly 10, 2014

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Recently, T-Mobile launched a Test Drive program offering customers the ability to take home an iPhone 5s for seven days. Right after T-Mobile made the announcement for their Test Drive program, Sprint reinstated a 30-day satisfaction guarantee program that it had previously killed-off in 2011. Sprint’s program allows customers to get a full refund for their devices along with all service/activation charges.

Must be a coincidence, right? Well, no, that is rather common amongst wireless carriers. We need to look no further than T-Mobile to see just how little AT&T and Verizon like to make moves that are remotely pro-consumer. Think AT&T or Verizon would have changed their upgrade plans or end their absurdly long contracts without T-Mobile forcing their hand?

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AT&T and Verizon have been matching each other for years now as a good duopoly should do. When Verizon offered a cheap unlimited calling plan, AT&T countered with one too. When AT&T switched to tiered data, Verizon had a similar plan unveiled shortly.

AT&T, ever the sneaky one, rolled out its own shared data plans to match Verizon recently, and you’ll never guess what it includes. Yep, tethering. They don’t make a big deal out of it, but AT&T saw the advantage Verizon was being forced into, and had to match it.” – ExtremeTech

Because of the lack of legitimate wireless competition in the country, the major players really do not need to make major moves in order to continue making money. Looking at AT&T and Verizon’s history of patty-cake, it is no wonder why they are so upset seeing T-Mobile slash contracts, pay off ETF’s, etc…

When AT&T makes a price move, Verizon will respond,” Roger Entner, an analyst with Recon Analytics in Dedham, Massachusetts. – Bloomberg

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In February of this year, AT&T announced their “Best Ever Prices” that gave families a 10GB, $160 plan. Not even a month later, Verizon changed their “MORE Everything” plans to copy AT&T’s prices.

Verizon does not want to fall too far behind AT&T when it comes to their overall pricing — especially in the 10-gigabyte-plus category, as that is the most valuable sector of customers,” said Weston Henderek, an analyst with Current Analysis. – Bloomberg

Last year, T-Mobile made a significant move to change the way that consumers upgrade their phones. AT&T and Verizon responded to this move by offering upgrade plans that mirrored each other.


As The Verge notes:

“But scratch past that surface layer and the Edge plan is just the same shell game as AT&T Next, designed to sucker customers into paying both the device subsidy built into Verizon’s already high monthly fees and the full retail price of their phones. (Like AT&T, Verizon discloses that the subsidy exists in its SEC filings, but declined to divulge the exact amount when I asked.)” – TheVerge

In 2010, Verizon lowered prices slightly and decided to eliminate a number of wireless plans. AT&T didn’t even wait a week before shockingly doing the same thing with their wireless plans. In fact, AT&T matched Verizon’s pricing changes within hours.

In 2012, after Verizon launched their ‘Share Everything’ plans, AT&T launched its own ‘Mobile Share’ plans. Both plans had similar if not exact features across the board.

As Forbes noted after these plans were announced:

One question increasingly asked in telecom circles is when will the regulators finally grow restless about the way Verizon and AT&T mirror each other when they implement new pricing strategies.” – Forbes

  • Terry Barnhill

    But in all this you fail to mention that Verizon has also changed their plans now so that if you buy your phone out right, on edge, or complete your 2 year contract and don’t upgrade, you receive a monthly discount to eliminate the subsidy built into the plan.

    • smokebomb

      So they’re doing exactly what they should’ve been doing to begin with? As it was 2 years ago when I still had them, they’d continue adding the device fee to your bill even if it was paid off.

  • Nunyur_Biznezz

    The last pic showing Verizon 3GB plan costing $90 plus $30 device fee is WRONG. It’s $90 if you include the device fee. 3 GB is $60 and the device fee is $30. Of course doing the math correctly would show Version’s plan costing $1044 $130 cheaper than T_mobile

  • ttwiitch yu

    What a ridiculous article. in what way does this benefit or teach me anything useful???!

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    • Captain Spaulding

      I believe it’s one of those articles that exists in order to point out the fact that you’re getting screwed no matter which carrier you choose.

      • smokebomb

        T-Mobile is the least evil. I had Verizon for years. I tried out T-Mobile with their old $30 BYOD plan and paid the ETF to Verizon. Verizon may have the better coverage but I don’t live in the middle of nowhere and I don’t travel for business, so I couldn’t find any reason to continue being gouged by Verizon.

    • smokebomb

      It should teach you to avoid ATT and Verizon.

  • smokebomb

    “when will the regulators finally grow restless.”

    Hahahahahahahahahaha! Regulators. That’s a good joke. If there was any actual regulation going on, this bull shit would’ve ended years ago.