AT&T plans changes to text message offerings | iLounge News


AT&T plans changes to text message offerings

AT&T is preparing to launch a new text messaging plan while removing two prior options, according to a new report. Citing a leaked image of an internal Best Buy notice, GearLive reports that AT&T is doing away with its prior $5/200 message and $15/1500 message plans, and is launching a new $10 monthly plan that will include 1000 messages, with each additional message costing $0.10. Notably unchanged are the company’s $20 individual unlimited and $30 family unlimited plans. While current customers will be grandfathered in and allowed to keep their current plans, all new customers will have to choose from the new offerings beginning January 23.

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What’s confusing to me is that if this is a reaction to to having to compete with Verizon, why take away cheaper options?  Right now I have no texting plan, but my wife’s texting shot up when she got an iPhone in November, so she’s on the $5/month plan, and it’s working fine for her. I figured I’d sign up for the lowest plan when/if my texting exceeded $5/month in charges. But this doesn’t make me want to prefer one carrier over another. It just makes me more apt to use Google Voice.

Posted by Rob E. on January 19, 2011 at 3:25 PM (CST)


Yeah, aren’t there multiple free texting apps? They might not be as streamlined as the built in messaging app, and may have ads, but I’d much rather have that than to have to pay more for texts.

Posted by Nathan on January 19, 2011 at 3:49 PM (CST)



You can get the first 1000 text messages for $10, but the second 1000 costs $100?

Posted by dave on January 19, 2011 at 5:34 PM (CST)


I have the free SMS app, TextFree, but people tend to send texts to my cell phone number instead of my TextFree number, so I need at least the 200 message plan.  Now, I’ll have to pony up an additional $5/mo, but it might be worth it for the convenience using the one number and the built-in app.

Posted by Neil on January 19, 2011 at 7:09 PM (CST)


dave, surely you’re being facetious. If you text that much (over 1100 per month) you would likely go to one of the unlimited plans rather than pay $0.10 each over the 1000 plan limit.

Posted by rockmyplimsoul on January 19, 2011 at 7:13 PM (CST)


If AT&T really wanted to compete with Verizon they’d make the first hundred or two messages free.

Posted by hardcle on January 19, 2011 at 8:29 PM (CST)


Eh, I’m not too happy. Like 2 years ago, I had the 500 message plan but I used to text like crazy always getting close to the 1500 messages so I changed to the 1500 message plan for $15 but I don’t really text much anymore. Now, I don’t text as much and maybe have only 1 decent length conversation a week so I switched back to the $5 for 200 plan. Now I have to pay $5 more ($10) for 800 messages that I will never use.

Posted by Josh C. on January 19, 2011 at 11:12 PM (CST)


If you guys knew how much profit the telcos were making off of texting, you wouldn’t do it.  Texting costs the telcos praticalloy nothing.  It uses a part of the cell transmission that wasn’t being used and they had no idea what to do with it until a braniac inside one of the telcos came up with what to do with it and that was texting.  The profits from it are ENORMOUS! You people are getting ripped off big time with these plans.  It costs the telcos less than a penny to provide a text message.

Posted by Fred on January 20, 2011 at 7:06 AM (CST)


@rockmyplimsoul - I think Fred’s point is more the pricing structure…if he had the $10 plan and normally sent 1000 in a month but had an off month where he had 2000, it would cost him 10 times as much, where as the $20/month plan would give the same level of service, for $90 less…it does seem almost like punishment to move to the higher plan just as “insurance” from an abnormally high bill.
@Fred - SMS was orignally delevoped in the 80’s as part of the GSM standard, which migrated and was included with other mobile technologies.

Posted by imbluenote on January 20, 2011 at 10:32 AM (CST)


It says that current subscribers will be grandfathered in, so no one currently using a $5/month plan will lose it, but people like me who were considering getting one along with an iPhone in June will now have to think about signing up for it now while it’s still available or getting a more expensive plan in June, or just using my Google Voice number (or other service) for texts.  Problem is, like Neil says, if someone has your cell phone number, that’s what they use, and, like Fred said, in terms of user cost text messages don’t make sense.  They’re simply more convenient and, as a result, the phone companies make a killing.  If they really wanted to be pro-consumer in an attempt to get/retain customers, they’d just roll text messaging into the data plan and, since a text message uses so little data, it would hardly effect anyone’s bill.

Posted by Rob E. on January 20, 2011 at 11:11 AM (CST)


This is another push in the direction of replacing my iPhone with an iPad + prepaid dumbphone.

Posted by Farnsworth on January 20, 2011 at 11:20 AM (CST)


My question is: why is there still any charge for text messages? You don’t charge by the email, you don’t charge per website access, so why is moving this particular teeny tiny set of data packets across your network subject to per message fees and that moving that teeny tiny set of data packets just covered by total data caps?

This whole mess is analogous to the sort of death throes long distance charges when through in our markets and it just comes across exactly what it is: an archaic way to squeeze blood from a turnip because, for now, the market provides no alternative.

It’s all just packets travelling to the nearest cell tower and then across physical lines. Voice, SMS, web, texting, email, all of it. None of it is any more trouble than the other, it’s purely a matter of relaying packets, and ye gods is it time somebody got with the times and started treating it like that.

Posted by Code Monkey on January 20, 2011 at 11:58 AM (CST)


@12.  I agree, but text messages are one of the highest profit items in all consumer sales.  They make a fortune off of them (and at the rate teens text, the younger demographic is their biggest customer).

They won’t treat it like tiny data packets because they don’t have to.  The markup on text messages is astronomical.  Cheap to transit, easy to cash in.  They’re companies after all.

Posted by DP on January 20, 2011 at 12:17 PM (CST)


@13: I understand that part, I’m not, after all, an idiot regardless of what some of the more fervent Apple fans may think. What I’m saying is that it’s one of those things that demonstrates the so-called free market does not actually function in the way it’s supposed to. Supply, particularly in regards to the ability to send and transmit text messages is effectively infinite. Cost to the seller is effectively free put up against their income. So, for all intents and purposes they’re selling something that costs them nothing and has an ifinite supply at a price that is, what, a million or billion percent markup?

Like long distance, all it will take is one of the carriers to just fold it into data plans and within a year the notion of paying what people used to pay $0.05-$0.50 per message will become as laughable as paying per minute for domestic long distance is today.

And if this truly were a competition between carriers, somebody would have already done just that, but it’s not actually a competition in any real sense, it’s competitive cartel. Because only in a cartel would each carrier continue to allow this patently illogical revenue stream to exist.

Posted by Code Monkey on January 20, 2011 at 12:27 PM (CST)



“patently illogical revenue stream”
This phrase is just posturing. If they can make money off texts and consumers are willing to pay it (both have been proven a million times over) than THAT is how the free market works. You do no sound smart, just like a whiner.

Posted by Clint on January 20, 2011 at 12:48 PM (CST)


Wow I just called someone not smart and misspelled. Not my proudest moment :o

Posted by Clint on January 20, 2011 at 12:57 PM (CST)


No, the free market does not work like that. Cartels work like that. Before you open your mouth and accuse me of whining, perhaps you need to actually learn a thing or three.

There’s way too many people out there who have been trained to bark like dogs at any suggestion our decidedly not-free market system is functioning just fine, when it most assuredly is not.

The reason why this not free market behavior is that any one competitor could remove the revenue stream from every single one of their competitors just by giving it up themselves while still remaining just as profitable. If they were actually competing with one another AT&T couldn’t act fast enough to just make flat fee based on data usage with no separate plans at all.

It’s precisely because it’s not a free market with true competition that they will continue with the shell game for as long as they can.

Posted by Code Monkey on January 20, 2011 at 1:06 PM (CST)


“Before you open your mouth and accuse me of whining, perhaps you need to actually learn a thing or three.”

ooo burn. Doesn’t prove your point though, sir.

“The reason why this not free market behavior is that any one competitor could remove the revenue stream from every single one of their competitors just by giving it up themselves while still remaining just as profitable.”

Then they would do it.

Posted by Clint on January 20, 2011 at 1:13 PM (CST)



I wasn’t arguing with you.  It’s complete BS that phone companies charge so much for texts.  That being said, this isn’t a free economy, and they’ll do whatever they want…cartels, sounds pretty accurate.

Posted by DP on January 20, 2011 at 3:09 PM (CST)

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