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AT&T to redesign stores around iPad-based checkout --report

The carrier will reportedly eliminate all counters and computers from its stores within the next two years, according to a new report.

AT&T's next in-store computer?
AT&T's next in-store computer?

Some major changes are afoot in AT&T stores across the U.S., a new report claims.

AT&T is currently readying plans to dump its in-store computer systems and counters and rely solely on Apple products to handle transactions, Apple blog 9to5 Mac is reporting, citing discussions with AT&T spokespeople.

The blog claims that current AT&T stores are hampered by "outdated computers" that aren't efficiently running the company's in-store software, OPUS. And by using counters in stores, salespeople are forced to sit behind the desk rather than roam the store. So, change is needed.

According to 9to5Mac, that change is already in the works. In some stores, AT&T salespeople have already been equipped with iPhones and iPads running simplified versions of OPUS. With the iDevices, salespeople can accept payments on accessory purchases and access basic account information, according to 9to5Mac. The carrier is reportedly working on new, more powerful mobile OPUS version that will deliver all of the functionality salespeople need to the iPad.

If this sounds familiar, it's because you've already seen it in Apple's retail stores. Salespeople, equipped with iPhones, roam the store to ask customers if they need any help. Whenever a purchase can be made, they simply whip out the iPhone, input the sale, and send customers on their way. That results in less wait time, few lines, and more space throughout the store for products.

AT&T isn't the only company reportedly looking to replicate that experience. Last month, the Wall Street Journal took a stroll through a new Best Buy store concept that reduces the number of checkout counters, but increases the number of places customers can pay for products. The store also included a prominent Geek Squad desk that allows customers to seek solutions to their tech troubles.

For its part, AT&T isn't looking to rush into a dramatic change. According to 9to5Mac, citing sources, the company hopes to have all retail stores equipped with iDevices and the full OPUS system within the next two years. The company will, however, be rolling out its new concept into more stores within the next year, according to 9to5Mac.

CNET has contacted AT&T for comment on the 9to5Mac report. We will update this story when we have more information.