AT&T Wants Subscribers to Upgrade Old Phones

AT&T is asking some of its customers to upgrade their old phones as the wireless giant continues to invest in faster networks that support subscribers who generally spend more with the carrier.

AT&T spokesman Mark Siegel told MarketWatch that the company is hoping to use some of the so-called 2G spectrum for new technologies.

“Your current, older-model 2G phone might not be able to make or receive calls and you may experience degradation of your wireless service in certain areas,” the report quoted AT&T as stating in the letter. 

Siegel said AT&T sent notices to customers in the New York metro area and may send them to other subscribers, MarketWatch reported, although he noted that most 2G phones would continue to work and that the program was voluntary and impacted a small number of customers.

Partially in response to the growth of data traffic on its wireless network, AT&T is investing $20 billion this year. Part of that investment will be dedicated to the expansion of its 4G LTE network in support of intelligent wireless gadgets like the iPhone and Samsung Galaxy S II.

Smartphone sales now comprise the lion’s share of new postpaid phone activations at AT&T. In the fourth quarter, AT&T sold a record 9.4 million smartphones.

It’s little wonder that AT&T wants more of its customer base to upgrade their old devices. The average revenue per user for smartphones on AT&T’s network is 1.9 times that of non-smartphone devices, and fewer smartphone customers leave the carrier than other postpaid subscribers, AT&T revealed earlier this year in its fourth-quarter results.

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