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Verizon, AT&T See Installment-Plan Gains

NEW YORK – Carriers Verizon Wireless and AT&T reported gains in the number of subscribers signing up for installment payment plans to pay for unsubsidized smartphones, and the carriers expect those numbers to grow with the plans’ rollout to more indirect-channel retailers.

More than 50 percent of AT&T’s secondquarter smartphone gross adds and upgrade phones were purchased under the Next installment/upgrade program, or 3.1 million, up from 40 percent in the first quarter and only 15 percent in the fourth quarter, the carrier reported in releasing its secondquarter financial results.

AT&T expects that percentage to rise in the third and fourth quarters because AT&T is rolling out Next to its national retail agents.

The carrier cited its Mobile Share Value Plans and Next trade-up program for its best quarterly postpaid subscriber gains in almost five years.

At Verizon, 18 percent of new postpaid subscribers opted for the carrier’s Edge plan in the second quarter, up from less than 15 percent in the first quarter. The percentage, however, was far lower than chief financial officer Fran Shammo’s original forecast of 30 percent.

Shammo said he forecast 30 percent because the Edge program was being rolled out to the indirect channel for the first time. One reason for the missed forecast, he said, is that the carrier ran a lot of mother’s and father’s day promotions that drove consumers into its stores rather than into indirect stores.