AT&T to kill $10/month texting plan

Starting Aug. 25, only $20 unlimited deal for new customers; iPhone owners get iMessage this fall with iOS 5

AT&T confirmed today that it will dump its $10 per month texting plan next week.

As of Sunday, the U.S. carrier will offer only one texting plan, a $20 per month unlimited message deal for individuals. It will retain the $30 per month family plan, which covers five mobile lines billed to the same household.

Falling by the wayside is the $10 per month plan that includes up to 1,000 messages.

Current customers are grandfathered in, and will see no change in their plans or billing, said AT&T.

"The vast majority of our messaging customers prefer unlimited plans and with text messaging growth stronger than ever, that number continues to climb among new customers," AT&T said in a statement today as explanation.

Earlier this year, AT&T culled a pair of plans -- $5 per month for 200 messages and $15 per month for 1,500 -- in favor of the $10 for 1,000 deal.

Rival Verizon, the only other U.S. carrier that sells Apple's iPhone, has several plans, ranging from $5 (250 message) and $10 (500) to $20 per month (unlimited).

Previously, both AT&T and Verizon dumped their all-you-can-consume unlimited data plans for the iPhone, the latter just last month and the former in June 2010.

Text messaging may become less important to iPhone owners this fall, when Apple releases iOS 5. The mobile operating system upgrade will include "iMessage," a free unlimited text, photo and video service for messaging between iOS 5 devices.

Apple has not revealed a launch date for iOS 5 -- which is expected to ship shortly before or alongside the next iPhone -- but the latest speculation has circled the calendar for early October.

iOS 5 will run on the iPhone 3GS and iPhone 4, iPad and iPad 2, and the third- and fourth-generation iPod Touch.

Gregg Keizer covers Microsoft, security issues, Apple, Web browsers and general technology breaking news for Computerworld. Follow Gregg on Twitter at @gkeizer, on Google+ or subscribe to Gregg's RSS feed . His e-mail address is gkeizer@computerworld.com.

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