AT&T said Thursday that it is getting rid of its lower-tier texting plan that lets people pay $10 a month for 1,000 text messages. Instead, the company plans to offer new subscribers only one plan: unlimited texting for $20 a month. Those who donât want to fork over $20 can choose to pay for each text, starting at 20 cents per message.
AT&T said the move was an effort to streamline and simplify its offerings, promising that that existing customers would be able to keep their existing plans, even if they switch to a new phone.
The shift, which was first reported by Engadget, goes into effect this Sunday.
“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,” said Mark Siegel, a spokesman for AT&T.
Text messaging has long been a lucrative source of revenue for the wireless carriers. But the growing abundance of free messaging applications that offer alternatives to text messages, such as GroupMe, Kik, WhatsUp and Pinger, may threaten the growth and use of text messaging.
And larger tech companies are rolling out their own messaging services. Google Voice already lets people send text messages through the Web, sidestepping SMS fees. Facebook recently unveiled Facebook Messenger, a free application that lets people easily send messages to friends in their network. And later this year, Apple is expected to introduce iMessage, a service that will let iPhone, iPod Touch and iPad owners send messages to one another over their data connections.
The wireless carriers are caught in the midst of technology/as-mobile-networks-speed-up-data-gets-capped.html?pagewanted=1&_r=1&hp">an industry-wide shift as consumers increasingly spend more time and money using mobile data and applications, rather than voice services, leaving them to figure out how to adjust their business models accordingly. This latest move from AT&T might be a sign that the carriers are getting increasingly anxious about the coming wave of disruption to their industry.