AT&T Fee Increase to Many Customers

AT&T is charging its customers more with a fee increase.  A small line item referred to as “Administrative Fee” is more than doubling from .76 cents to $1.99.   While this is a small amount it will realize more than $800 million in revenue to the carrier every year.


According to AT&T this fee covers things like cell site maintenance and other charges for the operation of the mobile network.  The increase is very likely to help with revenue after AT&T’s merger with Time Warner. Fortune Magazine sited a report from Moody’s Investors Services that AT&T was “weakly positioned” to support its debt levels.


Does this type of fee increase happen very often?


It is a very common practice for service providers to add fees.  These tend to be hidden quietly included on your bill, but in a way that is designed in many cases so you won’t notice it.  AT&T is not alone in this practice. Another example is Sprint who increased their “Administrative Charge” to $2.50 per device in March for many of their customers.   


Do other companies levy charges that may result in a fee increase?


Fees like this exist on many Internet providers such as Comcast and Charter as well as companies like T-Mobile and Verizon.  Comcast, for example, charges a list of fees depending on the service. These can include a Broadcast TV Fee, Equipment Rental Fee, Regional Sports Network Fee, Recovery Fees, Connectivity Charges, a fee for 911 access, Various taxes, Franchise Fees, FCC Fees, Access Fees, and many more.  These small amounts will increase your bill beyond your subscription costs. In some cases this can exceed $20 per month per device.


Is there any way consumers can avoid a fee increase?


In most cases the contract of service allows for fee increases.  So the answer is no. These “below the line” charges are not considered part of the monthly service fee and are usually included with taxes on the bottom of the bill.  The fees are not required by the government but are instead a way to increase revenue. The companies say they are necessary to cover additional operational costs such as expenses related to running their business.  


The answer can be found in the carriers contract, and they are allowed to change these charges while still imposing an early termination fee if you call it quits.  It is ambiguous at best and can require the need for legal advice.


In Summary


It is important to understand the details of what you are signing up for.  The companies don’t make this easy and provide long complicated agreements with these professional written provisions.  There are other options worth looking at.


As an example the fee increase only applies to AT&T monthly customers and not prepaid accounts.


Other options are wireless providers including companies like Cricket and MetroPCS.  It’s important to check these agreements to see what you are being charged and well worth a look.


Google also offers a phone plan called Project Fi ( as well as some of the cable providers.    Each company has a different approach and it’s important to ask questions.


William (Bill) Sikkens has been a technology expert for KXL on the Morning Show with Steve and Rebecca since 2014. With an expertise in I.T., cyber security and software design he has had more than 20 years’ experience with advanced technology. Sikkens conceptualizes and designs custom applications for many professional industries from health care to banking and has the ability to explain the details in a way all can understand.  Article edited by Gretchen Winkler.

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Got a technology question or comment for Bill? Follow him on Twitter @sikkensw



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