It looks like T-Mobile’s war against contracts has finally paid off. On Wednesday, Engadget obtained a leaked document that AT&T sent out to its employees informing them that customers will only be able to buy new phones by signing up for the AT&T Next installment plan or paying full price for the device starting on January 8th, 2016.
DON’T MISS: T-Mobile takes a victory lap
AT&T refers to this drastic shift as a “pricing simplification effort,” and it will apply to every phone the provider sells. There will even be new installment plans introduced specifically for Basic and Quick Messaging devices, so even if you want a flip phone, you’ll still have to either pay the full price up front or jump on AT&T Next.
AT&T and Verizon both began distancing themselves from two-year contracts earlier this year, but throughout 2015, it has still been possible to extend a contract with both providers. That won’t be the case in 2016.
In an FAQ included in the document, AT&T tells employees that “existing customers can choose to purchase a new smartphone on AT&T Next or pay no-commitment price.” They simply won’t have the option to extend their agreements any longer, and the same applies to employees on EMO accounts.
There is an indication that corporate accounts might be able to retain their two-year subscriptions, but everyone else is going to have to get used to a contract-less future.
UPDATE: Official statement from AT&T regarding the story:
“With $0 down for well-qualified customers, the ability to upgrade early and down payment options available with even lower monthly installments, our customers are overwhelmingly choosing AT&T Next. Starting January 8, AT&T Next will be the primary way to get a new smartphone at AT&T. This does not apply to business customers under a qualified wireless service agreement.”