AT&T slumps after launching family plans; Verizon, Sprint also off

|By:, SA News Editor

Following a Q4 in which it saw disappointing net subscriber adds and intensifying competition from T-Mobile (TMUS -1%), AT&T (T -3.4%) has launched aggressively-priced plans for families looking to share 10GB/month of data between accounts while receiving unlimited talk/text.

A family with just two smartphones still has to pay $130/month, but each additional smartphone costs only $15/month. One important catch: Like AT&T's recent shared data plan discount and a $200 credit provided in its T-Mobile promotion, the family plans require users forgo traditional smartphone subsidies. AT&T's efforts to pare subsidy expenses are a major reason its wireless op. margin rose 690 bps Y/Y in Q4.

AT&T is underperforming on a bad day for equities, as are Verizon (VZ -3.4%) and Sprint (S -4.3%). While AT&T, Sprint, and (especially) T-Mobile have launched major discounts and promotions in recent months, Verizon has maintained its premium pricing strategy, betting its coverage and service quality will allow it to continue delivering industry-leading subscriber adds and margins. But fears are growing Big Red increasingly has no choice but to return fire.

AT&T's latest move comes days after the carrier announced a $100 credit for each new line opened by a new or existing subscriber.