RALEIGH – Verizon and AT&T cellular customers are preparing for price increases on their monthly bills, but in these times of blistering recession  current and future T-Mobile customers are guaranteed not to see price increases, the company says. So why not switch?

T-Mobile earlier announced afrozen price program, T-Mobile’s Price Lock then today announced that it would provide $200 per line for any customers who switched carriers into a T-Mobile program, up to $1,000.

Verizon and AT&T both announced that customers would see an increase in their wireless bills earlier this month.  On May 16, Verizon shared plans to add an administrative fee between $1.35 and $3.30 per line beginning in June that it called an Economic Investment Charge.

T-Mobile called that charge “a new made-up fee” in a statement.

“Inflation shouldn’t be an excuse to jack up prices just because you can get away with it,” said Mike Sievert, CEO, T-Mobile, in the statement.

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What’s happening

But a Verizon spokesperson told CNET, which reported on the additional fee last week, that the additional fee was not due to inflation.

“The current economic conditions impacting businesses worldwide continue to mount and despite our best efforts to mitigate further impact, we intend to offset a portion of these costs by implementing an Economic Adjustment Charge,” a Verizon spokesperson said to CNET..

Verizon announced in April it would set a new minimum wage of $20 per hour.

“From time to time, we review and make adjustments to the wireless administrative charge that helps recover some of Verizon’s administrative and telco expenses, and costs of complying with regulatory requirements,” a Verizon spokesperson told WRAL TechWire this week.  “This is not a price plan increase,” the spokesperson said.

The Verizon spokesperson told WRAL TechWire that the company would begin to notify the “impacted wireless postpaid customers that the monthly administrative charge will increase by $1.35 per voice line to $3.30, effective their next bill cycle.”

The spokesperson for Verizon also said that such a charge “is comparable and generally lower than aggregate fees across the industry” and added that for data lines, the administrative charges would remain unchanged.

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What about AT&T?

And AT&T will be raising prices, soon, too, according to news reported first by Bloomberg earlier this month.  But those price increases, of between $6 and $12, will only affect older plans that current customers still maintain, the company told Bloomberg.  The company also confirmed to Bloomberg that customers could avoid price increases by switching to other company plans.

A Bloomberg senior industry analyst, John Butler, noted earlier this month that the company’s decision to raise prices on older plans may be intended to drive customers to migrate their plan to a different plan offered by the company.

“AT&T’s decision to raise prices on some of its older plans appears to be aimed at driving a further migration to its new unlimited plans,” Butler is quoted in the original Bloomberg report.

But T-Mobile issued a challenge to AT&T and Verizon in their statement earlier today, and announced it would be releasing an advertising campaign challenging other wireless providers to also guarantee to customers not to raise rates.