Is AT&T feeling the heat from the “Uncarrier?” Not if AT&T CFO John Stephens is to be believed. CNET reports that Stephens told an investor conference on Thursday that all of the talk about AT&T being in a “price war” with T-Mobile is just media hype and that the company isn’t under pressure to react to moves being made by the scrappy carrier that has shook up the wireless industry over the last year.
“The competition is more noisy than disruptive,” Stephens said, in a veiled shot at the often loud-mouthed T-Mobile CEO John Legere. He also said that T-Mobile’s decision to pay off new customers’ early termination fees hasn’t hurt AT&T so far and added that he doesn’t think such a scheme is sustainable over the long term.
“It’s not something that a company with a best-in-class balance sheet would jump into,” Stephens said of the T-Mobile ETF initiative.
While Stephens is right that AT&T has held up better than expected under T-Mobile’s attacks, it’s also true that AT&T took the extraordinary step of preemptive T-Mobile’s ETF announcement by saying that it would pay any T-Mobile subscribers switching to AT&T up to $450 per line. What’s more, T-Mobile’s subscriber growth over the past couple of quarters really has been off the charts and it added a stunning 2.4 million net customers last quarter alone, including 1.8 million total postpaid additions. Even if AT&T isn’t taking the brunt of T-Mobile’s assault, the company is definitely taking notice.