NEW YORK (MainStreet) – If you were thinking of switching to AT&T in the near future, you may want to pull the trigger in the next 24 hours.
The mobile carrier (Stock Quote: T) has previously offered two text messaging plans: A $20 unlimited plan and a $10 plan that allows up to 1,000 text messages. As of Sunday, though, the carrier will be doing away with the $10 plan, meaning that only those who already had it will be grandfathered in. After Sunday, all new customers who want to send text messages will have to get the unlimited plan or pay per message, regardless of whether they send 10 messages a month or 10,000.
While this isn’t a big deal to texting addicts (who likely prefer the unlimited plan) and families (who get a $30 a month unlimited texting plan with up to five phones), it’s a tough break for more reserved texters who now have to choose between paying $20 a month for unlimited texting or a whopping 20 cents per text. So if you send fewer than 33 texts a day and you’re thinking of signing a new contract with AT&T, do it before Sunday.
AT&T predictably put a positive spin on the change, explaining that “the vast majority of our messaging customers prefer unlimited plans” and that this was simply its way of “streamlining” its offerings. But we can’t help feeling like the carrier is starting to feel threatened by the rise of alternative messaging services such as the standalone messaging app that Facebook recently launched for iPhone and Android and the SMS alternative iMessage that Apple will introduce for iOS 5 users this fall.
Whatever the reason, between AT&T and Verizon both dropping their unlimited data plans and AT&T forcing you to get unlimited text messages, subscribers to either service just keep seeing their options shrink.