This move is not unprecedented; earlier this year, AT&T stopped offering two-year contracts via its third-party resellers (a la Best Buy) and only offered them through its company-owned retail stores and online. This latest move further aligns AT&T’s corporate policy of killing two-year phone contracts for good.
It should be noted that this policy doesn’t just apply to
smartphones; it also applies to old-school “dumb” flip-phones. There is one
exception to this “death to two-year contracts” sentiment that is running
through the wireless industry. Engadget
reports that large corporate customers will still be able to secure two-year
contracts for phone purchases.
Once word of the looming January announcement leaked, AT&T issued the following statement:
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.
With that being said, two-year contracts will still be available for tablets, wearables, mobile hotspots, and IoT devices.