AT&T is raising the cost of an “administrative fee” line item tacked onto the bottom of every single one of its 64.5 million wireless customers in the US, as reported first today by BTIG Research analyst Walter Piecyk. Originally $0.76, AT&T has raised the fee to $1.99. When added up and multiplied by 12 months, the increase will result in an additional $800 million or so for AT&T’s annual revenue. According to Piecyk, the fee should only apply to standard, monthly customers, and not prepaid AT&T users.
When reached for comment, an AT&T spokesperson confirmed the existence of the fee increase. “This is a standard administrative fee across the wireless industry, which helps cover costs we incur for items like cell site maintenance and interconnection between carriers,” the spokesperson said in a statement.
It’s not exactly clear why AT&T feels the need to jack up the amount of money it charges users without offering any tangible consumer benefit whatsoever. And it’s hard to read “cell site maintenance and interconnection between carriers” as wholly believable excuses for generating nearly $1 billion in revenue from its subscribers when AT&T just spent $85 billion acquiring Time Warner in one of the largest and priciest corporate consolidations in recent memory. Earlier this month, AT&T raised the price of its grandfathered unlimited data plans by an additional $5, citing customers that “are using mobile data at record levels” as the reason for the price increase.