AT&T bumps up device upgrade wait time from 20 to 24 months

The carrier says the new policy is intended to align upgrades with its standard two-year wireless contract.

CNET/Marguerite Reardon

Following the lead of Verizon Wireless, AT&T has increased the period of time customers must wait to upgrade their devices.

Customers who had previously had to wait 20 months before they were eligible for an AT&T-subsidized device will now have to wait 24 months, the wireless carrier announced on a company blog Sunday. The change applies to all new customers and to existing customers whose contract ends in March 2014 or later.

AT&T said the policy change is intended to align its device upgrade eligibility with its standard two-year wireless contract.

After completing six months of a contract, customers will be eligible for a partial discount off a device's retail price if they agree to a new two-year contract. Devices can also be purchased at full retail price without a two-year agreement.

The move mirrors Verizon's announcement in April that it was raising the wait time on subsidized device upgrades from 20 months to 24 months. The change drew a lot of questions during the company's earnings conference call, but Verizon Chief Financial Officer Fran Shammo said he didn't foresee any backlash from customers.

About the author

Steven Musil is the night news editor at CNET News. Before joining CNET News in 2000, Steven spent 10 years at various Bay Area newspapers.


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