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AT&T bundles free HBO subscription with Unlimited Plus cellular plan

Beginning on Thursday, AT&T will include a free HBO subscription as a perk of its high-cost Unlimited Plus plan, intensifying recent competition among U.S. cellular carriers.

People who don't already subscribe to an AT&T video service will be able to watch through DirecTV Now or HBO Go, using apps on multiple platforms including Apple's iOS and Apple TV. If a person already has DirecTV or U-verse, HBO will simply become free.

AT&T is also including a $25 monthly credit towards its video services, kicking in after the first three bills. The HBO credit starts within the first two.

With AutoPay and paperless billing enabled, Unlimited Plus costs $90 for a single line or $145 for two lines, with each further line costing an extra $20. It does however offer various perks, like roaming in Canada and Mexico, and 10 gigabytes of hotspot data per person. Users may be temporarily throttled if they top 22 gigabytes in a month.

The HBO bundle is possible because of AT&T's $85 billion buyout of Time Warner. That deal has yet to be approved, however, and faces opposition from politicians and others worried about increasing hegemony in the media landscape.

In the past few months U.S. carriers have been trading fire over unlimited plans, each hoping to clinch the one advantage that pulls in subscribers. Companies like AT&T and T-Mobile have in fact been making repeated adjustments in response to competition.