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AT&T to pay up to $450 per line to T-Mo switchers; beats upcoming T-Mobile move

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Call it a pre-emptive strike. AT&T announced on Friday (press release via BGR) a new program designed to offset rival T-Mobile's rumored plans scheduled for a news conference next week at CES in Las Vegas.

The initiative is the same as T-Mobile's rumored plan: customers would get up to $450 for each line switched from T-Mobile. The credit includes $200 in addition to up to the already existing (per AT&T’s previous trade-in program) $250 worth of trade-in value for the switcher’s old device. Unlike T-Mobile's rumored plan, the promotion only applies to T-Mobile customers; it is also is limited in time.

In the case of T-Mobile, the rumored program will work with any other carrier, or at least the remaining three out of the Big Four. Again, this is just a rumor -- at least until Jan. 8. T-Mobile reportedly will offer up to $350 per user who switches to their network. Again, part of the rebate would come from the trade-in value of the switcher's devices.

Despite nearly becoming one company -- AT&T famously offered to acquire T-Mobile for $39 billion in March of 2011. In December of that year, AT&T abandoned the plan after the U.S. Department of Justice formally announced on Aug. 31, 2011 that it would seek to block the takeover, and filed a lawsuit to such effect in federal court.

T-Mobile's new "UnCarrier" plans have made inroads into the market share of other carriers. Other carriers have been forced to follow suit, but in this case, the shoe is on the other foot. T-Mobile CEO John Legere has been teasing the company’s expected “UnCarrier 4.0″ announcement for a few weeks now, and that gave AT&T the opening it needed.

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