AT&T Offers Unlimited International Texts to Challenge T-Mobile

AT&T Inc., the second-largest U.S. wireless carrier, is introducing cheaper rates for international calls and text messaging, responding to competitive pressure from T-Mobile US Inc.

By Feb. 28, customers on AT&T’s Mobile Share plans can send unlimited text messages from the U.S. to almost all countries at no extra charge, the Dallas-based company said today in a statement. AT&T also cut the price of calls to mobile phones in Mexico, Canada and the Caribbean to 1-cent-a-minute in a plan that costs $5 a month. Previously AT&T charged more for calls to mobile phones and $10 a month for international texting.

AT&T is taking on T-Mobile, the fourth-largest carrier, which recently introduced free international text messaging and offered $450 credits to get customers to switch service. Today’s price cuts by AT&T come less than a month after it reduced its four-member family plans by $40.

“We are always looking for ways to keep our customers happy,” AT&T Mobility Chief Executive Officer Ralph De La Vega said in an interview at Mobile World Congress in Barcelona yesterday. “The offer we have is better than T-Mobile’s, because on ours it isn’t just landlines, it includes mobile as well.”

T-Mobile, based in Bellevue, Washington, has gained 2.1 million monthly customers in the past three quarters. This is a reversal of its 2012 performance, fueled by a switch to no-contract plans and quicker phone upgrades and payment financing.

The gains at T-Mobile have helped slow AT&T’s user growth. Earlier this month, AT&T said it signed up 566,000 contract wireless customers in the fourth quarter, compared with 780,000 a year ago.

Shares of AT&T have dropped about 9 percent in the past year compared with a surge of 62 percent in T-Mobile’s stock.

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