The Verge has learned that national, third-party AT&T retailers will stop offering two-year contracts at the end of the month and will instead only offer smartphones with the AT&T Next program or at full retail price. The move was originally reported by Droid-Life, and comes just a little more than two years after T-Mobile declared it had become the "uncarrier," becoming the first major US wireless carrier to kill all mobile contracts.
AT&T isn't really going that far though, at least not yet. Industry sources tell The Verge that AT&T will continue to offer two-year contracts in its own stores and online, so it's not a coup de grâce for consumers. And even if AT&T killed contracts, programs like AT&T Next are sort of like contracts by a different name — they're still expensive commitments.
Even if AT&T plans on dragging its feet, competition has been getting better in the mobile industry. T-Mobile has largely been leading the way, even if the prickly and occasionally uncouth demeanor from CEO John Legere is off-putting. AT&T has already followed T-Mobile's aggressive moves with discounted data plans and cash incentives for people who switch carriers. Hopefully the company's ripple will soon turn into a wave.