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AT&T is about to raise fees for smartphone upgraders – everything you need to know

Published Jul 22nd, 2015 8:50AM EDT
AT&T Smartphone Upgrade Fee Increases

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Surprise, surprise! Upgrading to new smartphones on AT&T is about to get more expensive. Droid Life this week broke the news that starting on August 1st, AT&T is planning to raise upgrade fees for customers signing new two-year contracts with the carrier to $45, or $5 more than what it currently charges to activate a new device when you sign a two-year deal. 

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This price increase gives AT&T the highest activation fees in the country, as Verizon’s is still set at $40. That said, we wouldn’t be surprised to see Verizon quickly follow suit because we’re sure its shareholders will give it an earful for not keeping up with Ma Bell when it comes to raising fees if it doesn’t.

To get out of paying more, you may think you’d be safe by switching to AT&T’s Next early upgrade plan… but that’s where you’d be badly mistaken.

It seems that starting on August 1st, AT&T will also start charging $15 for everyone who signs up for AT&T Next — and that includes “those who bring their own device (BYOD) and sign up for a new line of service,” Droid Life writes. Before activating a device on AT&T Next cost you nothing so slapping users with a $15 upgrade fee really is a big change.

AT&T tells The Verge that the fee increases are being implemented due to “administrative and other costs associated with activating or upgrading a device,” although it’s still surprising that AT&T could go from charging nothing to charging $15 at the drop of a hat. At the very least, we expect this new $15 fee to pop up in a T-Mobile JUMP ad sometime in the future.

Brad Reed
Brad Reed Staff Writer

Brad Reed has written about technology for over eight years at and Network World. Prior to that, he wrote freelance stories for political publications such as AlterNet and the American Prospect. He has a Master's Degree in Business and Economics Journalism from Boston University.