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AT&T ends payouts aimed at attracting T-Mobile customers

Carrier ends promotion offering T-Mobile customers up to $450 to switch wireless carriers.

AT&T has stopped offering to pay T-Mobile customers up to $450 to switch wireless services, ending a promotion that lasted less than a month.

The promotion, which was announced at the Consumer Electronics Show on January 3, was discontinued on January 31, an AT&T representative told CNET Monday, confirming an earlier Wall Street Journal report.

The promotion offered a $200 credit for every line transferred to customers who chose an AT&T Next plan and either activated a phone or bought a new one at full retail price. AT&T also a offered a promotion card of up to $250 for every smartphone trade-in customers brought.

AT&T representative Brad Burns noted that it was intended to be a temporary promotion and pointed out that the carrier announced a new promotion on February 1. The Dallas-based telecommunications company on Sunday began offering a series of family plans designed to entice new users and retain existing ones.

Once partners in a planned $39 billion merger, the two wireless carriers have become increasingly at odds. After months of intense lobbying and regulatory opposition, AT&T abandoned its bid to acquire T-Mobile at the end of 2011. The breakup forced AT&T to pay T-Mobile $3 billion in cash for its trouble.

But the two carriers are now engaged in a cutthroat effort to win over customers in a sector where there are fewer subscribers up for grabs. Recently, T-Mobile has targeted its rivals' family plan customers, offering to buy out their early termination fees. Meanwhile, AT&T has been steadily offering up a number of incentives to switch carriers but dismissed the notion that the new plans were in response to a single competitor.

T-Mobile CEO John Legere, who last month said AT&T had resorted to "bribing customers" to retain and attract them, was quick to point out the end of the promotion Monday: