AT&T has announced a 30-month installment plan that will allow users to upgrade phones after 24 months of payments.
The new plan, called Next 24, will be available starting on Nov. 9 and will join other AT&T Next plans such as the Next 12, which allows users to upgrade after a year of payments. and the Next 18, which allows users to upgrade after 18 months of payments.
"With a variety of payment options, they can choose the device and plan that fits their budget," said AT&T chief marketing officer David Christopher in a statement. "AT&T Next gives customers flexible pricing options at an incredible value on a reliable network that keeps them connected."
The AT&T Next is available to any smartphone in AT&T's smartphone selection. Interest-free installments range from $10 to $50 per month, allowing customers to choose a plan that best fits their financial needs. Customers will also get discounts, for example, if they sign up to a two-year contract with the company.
The names of AT&T's Next plans are a little confusing; it is important to note that the payment installations run longer than the name of the plan suggests. For example, users of the Next 12 plan will actually pay installments for 20 months before they own their phone. However, they will be eligible to turn in their phone for a new device after 12 months. The same concept is true of the Next 24 plan. Installment payments actually run for 30 months, but users will be eligible for a new device after 24 months.
Many customers have shown interest in equipment installment plans because it gives them a cut on their wireless service bill. Users who also sign up for AT&T's Mobile Share Value Plan are able to save between $15 and $25 on their monthly bill, depending on the data allotment they choose. Users who decide to keep their phone after it is paid off also get to keep the discount.
The types of plans are different from subsidized models, which many wireless providers have offered until recently. In a subsidized model, users pay a higher service charge fee to get a smartphone at a lower cost.
AT&T is among other wireless companies such as T-Mobile, which was one of the first companies to move toward eliminating contracts and subsidies. in offering the installment plans. Marcelo Claure, the CEO of Sprint, has hinted that his company may also drop the subsidized program completely by 2015, pushing for the monthly installment model.