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AT&T to drop cheaper text plans August 21, leave unlimited

updated 07:50 am EDT, Thu August 18, 2011

ATT steering users towards high-tier unlimited SMS

Newly uncovered AT&T update strategy suggests that the carrier will make the unlimited text messaging plan the only option for new subscribers next week. As of August 21, the $10, 1,000-message plan should disappear and leave only the $20 individual and $30 family unlimited plans. Anyone else will have to pay per use, according to Engadget's screen cap, which at 20 cents per SMS and 30 cents per MMS is designed to steer all but very occasional users into a fixed plan.

Anyone who has one of the lower-cost messaging plans is grandfathered in.

The move partly reflects reality, where many use messaging heavily enough that unlimited is more practical. The "vast majority" of customers prefer it, the company memo insists to employees. It regardless is likely intended to raise the minimum price that customers pay. Carriers regularly use ARPU (average revenue per user) as a gauge of their fiscal success and often believe they can do this by encouraging or pushing more expensive data-based services.

Some of the motivation may come from the shift away from voice. Many customers now don't have to depend as heavily on phone calls and can use fewer minutes than they did in the past, in some cases leading to a lower ARPU. AT&T is also poised to sell the messaging-heavy BlackBerry Torch 9810 the same day and may be keen to catch new subscribers that way.

by MacNN Staff



  1. facebook_Shourya

    Via Facebook

    Joined: Aug 2011


    Defensive move against alternatives

    Sounds like a defensive move to prevent customers from stepping down to cheaper texting plans with the upcoming iMessage adding to existing alternatives to SMS, such as BBM.

  1. chromos

    Joined: Dec 1969


    I'll be shopping around

    When my 2 yr contract is up, I'll definitely be looking at Verizon if they haven't matched AT&T's prices. This price jacking is getting ridiculous.

  1. lamewing

    Joined: Dec 1969


    Just in time :(

    Just in time :(

    We have a 2 person (family) unlimited plan for $30 a month. With the coming of iMessage we were going to drop the unlimited and my messaging completely. So the only cost would be my wife's $10 messaging plan - a $20 savings.

    Now that AT&T is getting greedy we are going to drop ALL the messaging plans and use iMessage and Google Voice messaging.

    Now AT&T gets $0 instead of at least $10. Greedy b*******.

  1. aduffbrew

    Joined: Dec 1969


    Remind me again...

    How is the T-mobile acquisition supposed to lower prices for consumers? I find it increasingly more difficult to warrant the expense of my iPhone... Or any smartphone on a national carrier for that matter. Why are we paying 2 to 3 times that of our European counterparts again? The excellent service or the call quality? I forget.

  1. milkmage

    Joined: Dec 1969


    big deal

    I don't use SMS that much (have never exceeded whatever the minimum plan is... 500/$5?).. and since just about every single person I know (who I SMS with any frequency) uses an iphone, iMessage will negate the need for any SMS plan whatsoever.

  1. lamewing

    Joined: Dec 1969



    I wonder how this will affect the GoPhone. Right now you can have a GoPhone with minutes only, text only, data only or a mix of the three. I wonder if AT&T is going to raise the prices on the GoPhone because you can currently pay $10.00 a month for a 1000 texts it that is all you care about. My second phone is just that a iPhone 3GS with no voice or data, just texts for $10.00 a month. If they raise the price on that phone, I will cancel it.

  1. rjdude

    Joined: Dec 1969


    For new customers...

    Everyone else is grandfathered

  1. climacs

    Joined: Dec 1969


    texting charges = ripoff

    don't know how many of you know this, but have you ever heard the RF interference from a cellular phone? You can hear it occasionally on your alarm clock radio. It sounds like a series of morse code beeps.

    That's your cell phone communicating with the nearest cell phone tower. All cell phones send out this signal. Texting merely replaces that automatically-sent message with your text message. Text messages also consume far less bandwidth than phone calls.

    So texting creates hardly any additional bandwidth demands, except perhaps in the case of your teen who is sending hundreds of texts a day. It's almost pure profit for the carriers.

    I'm currently on the $5/200 msgs/mth plan because it's difficult to get everyone I communicate with to use SMS alternatives like instant messaging, and unfortunately you can't block text messages (gee I wonder why) unless you buy a phone that completely lacks that capability. I'll be grandfathered in, but for everyone else... forcing them to a $20/mth plan is just a complete ripoff.

  1. lamewing

    Joined: Dec 1969


    Switch to

    Switch to iMessage for your iOS friends and Google voice for SMS to your non-iOS friends. Save your $$$.

  1. lkrupp

    Joined: Dec 1969


    It's a service, not a right

    Look, we are the ones who addicted ourselves to texting. Just observe any group of teenagers. They stand right next to each other and text instead of talk. Really weird wouldn't you say? Texting is a service with high demand so the supply/demand law applies. The carriers can charge whatever they want for the service and the demand will either raise or lower to equalization. If the price gets too high the demand will drop and so will the price. But demand WILL NOT drop because we are addicted to the service. The carriers are not in this as a public service or didn't any of you realize that?

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