AT&T Inc. (NYSE:T) is launching a new attack in the prepaid battle, introducing its latest brand, Aio Wireless. The hope is that the addition of a new prepaid venture will help AT&T revive its success, competing with larger carrier, Verizon Wireless (NYSE:VZ), which has been making significant gains in the contract industry, and smaller carriers, T-Mobile US (NYSE:TMUS) and Sprint Nextel (NYSE:S), which have seen growth in prepaid customers, The Wall Street Journal reports.
AT&T will run Aio Wireless in addition to its other prepaid service, the GoPhone brand. The two services differ in their targeted consumers. While GoPhone customers typically employ the service with a daily or weekly plan, Aio will target those who want no annual contract, but still are interested in unlimited talk/text/data plans. It plans to do most of its business through retails stores dedicated to the brand.
While prepaid subscribers haven’t usually been the focus for AT&T, many of its customers are now more interested in increased data use. Although in The Wall Street Journal‘s report, Jennifer Van Buskirk, president of Aio Wireless, claims that AT&T’s new service is not a response to T-Mobile’s recent removal of service for its postpaid plans, Aio’s price range is similar to that of T-Mobile’s, hovering around $35-70 a month.
The new plan comes at a time when phone carriers, large and small, are especially battling on the prepaid front. Smaller carriers, T Mobile and Sprint are concerned with turning around their recent massive postpaid losses, and seeing more success in their prepaid industry. Verizon also recently launched a $35 prepaid plan on feature phones, additionally cutting the price in February of its other high-end prepaid smartphone.
Aio Wireless will initially launch in Houston, Orlando and Tampa, and plans to expand to additional markets across the U.S. later this year. Customers can either bring their own devices to Aio for service, or choose from their range of smartphones and features.
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