AT&T cuts wireless data charges for individual customers

Sat Mar 8, 2014 2:16pm EST

An At&T logo is seen atop a store in Beverly Hills, California August 31, 2011. REUTERS/Danny Moloshok

An At&T logo is seen atop a store in Beverly Hills, California August 31, 2011.

Credit: Reuters/Danny Moloshok

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(Reuters) - AT&T Inc said on Saturday it is cutting wireless data charges for individual customers who have no annual service contract, as the No. 2 U.S. mobile operator attempts to better compete with rival T-Mobile US Inc.

Customers having one smartphone with no annual service contract will now pay $65 per month instead of $80 for a plan that includes 2GB LTE wireless data, unlimited talk and text messaging, unlimited international messaging and 50 GB cloud storage. Customers with two smartphones will now pay $90.

The latest plan follows price cuts AT&T announced last month for families and customers who share large data plans, as well as its offer of a $200 credit to customers who switch to its network.

AT&T has been fiercely competing with smaller rival T-Mobile U.S. after T-Mobile spent several quarters directly marketing to AT&T customers. T-Mobile, a long-time industry straggler, was able to report three full quarters of customer growth after four years of losses.

Separately on Friday, T-Mobile said it was doubling to 1GB the amount of LTE wireless data it was providing with its flagship Simple Choice plan, which costs $50 a month, and also includes unlimited talk and domestic and international text messaging.

AT&T previously said that T-Mobile's efforts only concerned the most cost-conscious customers, who are not its or market leader Verizon Communications Inc's primary targets.

All four U.S. wireless providers, including Sprint Corp, have made price adjustments as they attempt to sustain growth in a mature market built on stealing growth from competitors.

While discounts are always welcomed by consumers, the intensifying competition is a new challenge to a U.S. industry long used to imposing its will on consumers, and analysts fear it could result in the loss of billions of dollars of revenue.

(Reporting by Soham Chatterjee. Editing by Andre Grenon)

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