AT&T is forcing new wireless customers to choose between an unlimited text messaging plan and a 20-cent per-message rate.

Robert Strohmeyer, Contributor

August 18, 2011

2 Min Read

In the midst of ongoing controversy over the company's proposed acquisition of competitor T-Mobile, AT&T has confirmed reports that the company has revamped its text messaging plans, cutting out its popular $10 Messaging 1000 plan entirely and forcing customers to choose between a $20 unlimited plan or pay 20 cents per message.

According to a screenshot that first appeared on the gadget blog Engadget late last night, the change will take place on this coming Sunday, August 21. The move will affect new customers only at this time, and it is not yet clear whether or when existing AT&T customers will be affected. AT&T has reportedly said that current customers will be able to keep their $10 texting plans, at least for the time being.

As of this writing, AT&T's website still offers the $10 Messaging 1000 plan, and it appears that customers interested in that plan will still be able to sign up for it between now and Saturday.

In a statement to Engadget, AT&T confirmed the plan changes. "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. Existing customers don't have to change any messaging plan they have today, even when changing handsets," a spokesperson said.

Viewed in light of the company's proposed merger with T-Mobile, that statement makes sense. T-Mobile currently offers unlimited texting with nearly all of its plans, without breaking the service out as a separate billing item. It remains to be seen whether T-Mobile customers would be forced to change their texting plans if the merger does go through.

In addition to the $20 unlimited plan, AT&T will also continue to offer its $30-per-month Family Unlimited plan, which can be applied to up to five lines on a single account. However, customers hoping to keep their messaging costs to $10 per month will have to use the 20-cent-per-message plan and cut the total number of texts down from 1,000 to 50.

AT&T's largest competitor, Verizon Wireless, continues to offer a variety of texting plans, including a 250-message package for $5 per month and a 500-message package for $10 per month. Sprint, meanwhile, continues to offer a $10 plan with 1,000 messages, as well as a $5 plan with 300 messages. All three companies offer the same $20 unlimited plans and 20-cent pay-as-you-go plans.

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