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AT&T invents an absurd $15 activation fee for Next customers

It starts August 1st, and on-contract customers will also pay more

AT&T will soon increase its activation fees for customers on regular postpaid contracts and those new to the carrier's Next upgrade plan. Droid Life first reported the pending hikes, which will raise the activation fee for one- and two-year contracts to $45 — up from the current $40 — starting August 1st. $5 isn't a ton of money, but this is still the type of move that frustrates consumers and makes AT&T look awfully greedy. That $45 figure is now the highest activation fee among all US mobile providers. AT&T increased it from $35 to $40 last June, a move that Verizon Wireless later followed.

But the worst change affects customers who sign up for AT&T's Next plan on or after August 1st. Like other carriers, AT&T's upgrade-when-you-want installment plan has allowed consumers to get started with $0 down and no hidden activation, financing, or upgrade fees. Unfortunately, that won't be the case much longer. Starting on the 1st, AT&T will charge all new Next customers a $15 activation fee whenever they get a new phone. That same $15 rate applies if you bring your own smartphone compatible with AT&T's network and start a new, contract-free line of service with the carrier. In a statement to The Verge, the company was quick to note that existing Next customers — and those who sign up before August 1st — won't be subject to the fees "at this time."

AT&T's justification for these increases has traditionally been the "administrative and other costs associated with activating or upgrading a device." Clearly AT&T is unwilling to eat those costs and keep activation fees flat. If nothing else, John Legere just got some fresh ammunition for his relentless Twitter rants against T-Mobile's bigger foe.