On the eve of iMessage, AT&T removing all but unlimited SMS text plans

On the eve of iMessage, AT&T removing all but unlimited SMS text plans

AT&T has confirmed to Engadget that, as of August 21, they'll be removing all but the unlimited SMS/Text messaging plans:

"We regularly evaluate our offers and are making some adjustments to our messaging lineup.

Starting August 21, we're streamlining our text messaging plans for new customers and will offer an unlimited plan for individuals for $20 per month and an unlimited plan for families of up to five lines for $30 per month. 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."

With iOS 5 and iMessage likely set for an early October launch, AT&T was facing a world where Apple provided an easy, integrated way to seamlessly exchange free instant messages inside the same Messages app that hosts costly, carrier-based SMS/text messages. Arguably, a subscriber who's friends and family were also mostly on iPhones could have downgraded to a lower plan to save some money.

Now that can't happen. It's unlimited or nothing. And as MG Siegler points out on Paris Lemon, it's quite a coincidence.

SMS is huge money for carriers considering the data uses is next to nothing and the price is stratospheric, and iMessage was a threat to that traditional, exorbitant revenue stream.

Now we're just left to wonder which other carriers will follow suit.

[Engadget, ParisLemon]

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Rene Ritchie

Editor-in-Chief of iMore, co-host of Iterate, Debug, Review, Vector, and MacBreak Weekly podcasts. Cook, grappler, photon wrangler. Follow him on Twitter and Google+.

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Reader comments

On the eve of iMessage, AT&T removing all but unlimited SMS text plans

59 Comments

Actually Tmo FTW here :) Paying for $10 for unlimited messaging on up to 5 lines.
Too bad I will soon be sucked into this ATT crap.... :(

Hey Einstein, it's "too much"......catch that?? And here's a freebie....one you can use in the future post. There is no such word as alot. It's two words....."a lot".

You ever notice how all the big companies when they f*** you in the rear, always try to pass it off as "streamlining".

I use unlimited anyways so I dont mind. Before I commit to imessage I need to know it's stable and it's sends text messages successfully before I go go all in

as well as know if most of your contacts have an iDevice and if so, will they use imessage or even upgrade to iOs 5

Once you upgrade to iOS5 you have no choice but to use iMessage. iMessage falls back to SMS if the contact on the other end isn't on an iDevice with iOS5. The majority iDevice users are on the latest OS so it shouldn't be a problem.

Note that, per Merriam-Webster, "eve" can also mean "the period immediately preceding", not just "the evening or day before." I took the former meaning, but I can certainly understand where you're coming from.

Don't know why this came out twice. Much as I love it, sometimes the iPhone does weird things!

Per Merriam-Webster, "eve" can also mean "the period immediately preceding", not just "the evening or the day before". I took the former meaning, but I can certainly understand where you're coming from.

People still have non-unlimited SMS plans? I text like CRAZY...and honestly, do you think every one of your contacts will have an iDevice so they can use iMessage? You're obviously still going to text with people. I think this is a good idea.

" I text like CRAZY..."

But, some people have lives, and don't text like crazy.
I'm an existing customer with the 200 text plan. I probably use 130 of them per month, so paying 20¢ a text with no plan is not a good option. If I was a new customer and was offered this "unlimited only" plan for twenty extra dollars, I'd have texting disabled... and I'm certain many people (with better things to do than text entire conversations like little girls) will turn it down, as well.

Very good to belittle others with different opinions than yours. You must have nothing better to do than heckle others in the comments of an article online like an old man.

Seriously who thought this wasn't going to happen? They pulled unlimited data when tethering came about, they held back on FaceTime via 3G. I'm thinking of dumping my texting plan and use my Google voice number until my contract is up and jumping ship out of spite. Irks me when companies screw people in the name of profits under the guise of customer service.

Er, the current $5/mo 200 text plan I have suits me fine. It's more than enough. If I can't inherit that when the iPhone 5 comes out, it'll mean AT&T won't be getting any text message money from me. Sigh.

As a matter of fact, SMS in not Data; it uses a whole different infrastructure from Cellular data that existed long before 3G/4G/LTE.
And to answer your question, i ask you this question; Why charge for anything?
Answer: Because they can, and we pay for it.

Good thing I'm on Sprint. I have facebook text alerts too. I don;t care. i have unlimted so I shouldnt cry or worry about the amount of texts i'm sending like you have toi on ATT

Text messaging came about with 2G. Infact it was one of 2Gs top features. you know before every kid started flame wars on line regarding apple vs android

I reduced my text messaging plan to the 200 message limit. Instead I use Google Voice for most text messaging, which draws from my data plan (still "unlimited") rather than paying for an unlimited text plan. AT&T is doing its new customers a disservice, which only adds to my displeasure with the company (to be coupled with horrible cellular service at my house). Stated otherwise, to my mind, they're just awful!

How do you "use Google Voice for most text messaging"? Do you have one number for phone calls, and then just tell everyone else to txt you at a different number? I've had my mobile number for over 10 years, and everyone knows it and uses it to call and txt me. I don't really want to change the number, but I would like to start using Google Voice so I can tell AT&T to f*ck off and cancel my txt msging with them all together.
Can you elaborate on what you did?

Couldn't tell about google voice (i was put off by the 2nd number as well, now i just use them for international calls and voicemail) but I use skype for texting, half the price of at&t and i don't have to have a plan. somebody else could have something better.

On Android GV integrates directly with the phone so I could use GV or Sprint. Voicemail, calls, etc could also prompt you to use GV or not. My wife toggles between the two for every request. That would drive me crazy but it works for her.

I toggles between them for every call as a way to confirm that I wanted to call people. I had an Eris and it was notorious for calling people with the slightest touch. At least with the toggle on I had a chance to confirm first.

Sure, I'm happy to help. I created an account through Google Voice (which allows for unlimited texts - both sent and received) and downloaded the app to my iPhone from the App Store. Then, I shared with my family and friends that they would begin to receive texts from me under that number. But, I made it clear that they could continue to call me on my normal mobile number. (Likewise, they could call me on the GV number.)
I have some contacts who continue to text me on my normal mobile number, which is why I kept a 200 messages plan. However, many others adopted my new Google Voice number for texts. Most often, if I initiate the text, then they just respond to me on the number (Google Voice) from which that text was sent.
One other point of consideration. I'm not aware that I can send MMS texts (with pictures or videos) through Google Voice. Likewise, I can't text multiple people at once through Google Voice. These are, again, reasons why I kept a 200 messages plan with AT&T.
And finally, for what it's worth, Google Voice has super cheap international calling rates compared to others. Since I have friends outside the US, who I mostly call on their mobile phones, GV saves me a bundle by calling through the app.
I hope this is useful!

SMS gv extension makes the whole process rather seemless. If it txt is SMS it goes out gv if mms it goes out carrier. I guess it is possible to go over the 200 per month with this but as long as most of your contacts use the Gv number then it is not a problem.

Smart. I can't wait until Internet is everywhere then carriers will be nixed and we'll buy phones like we buy tablets [wifi-only].
[checkmark here] Step 1: Remove dependency on SMS. :-D

I'm not sure if it applys to all AT&T customers but I've had the unlimited texting plan for quite some time now and a week or two ago I received an e-mail from them stating that I'm a valued customers or whatever and that I could now receive mobile-to-ANY mobile with there "new" unlimited messaging plan for the same $20 bucks a month that I'm currently paying now, so it could be a win win in some situations... Anybody else know what I'm talkin about?

just get rid the texting plan. everyone has iphones anyways. and if they don't, they will by ios 5 and iphone 5.

If Google had their way, the Internet would be free across the country.
I doubt it will happen any time soon but one can wish. ;-)

SMS is so stupid. That's it. Leave the dumbphone users behind, it's time for somebody to come up with a compelling cross-platform texting app and for all users to get on board with a single standard, so we can take that $20 off our already-overpriced bills. It's totally ridiculous that we pay extra to send 160 characters.

What about AIM/YahooMessenger/Facebook messenger? Everyone get a free account and instant message each other????

i dont mind the unlimited only because i know many people without an iphone and i use a lot of text messages but the real factor is that if you have unlimited text you have unlimited mobile to any mobile on att. with that being said these carriers are all jokes. they are like the record companies before mp3 they robbed the customer. sooner or later they will get theirs

I agree (with hating it). I never text unless I'm answering someone texting me. I started getting bombarded with them by friends who never listened when I told them I don't text, so I caved into the $5 plan... which pisses me off with 4,000 rollover minutes they won't let me use for texting. I tried disabling it once, but then people were too lazy to call me, and emailed the shit out of me instead.
Telephones came along so we could speak instead of typing on telegraphs, then typing texts replaced speaking on the telephone, now everyone wants speech to text so they don't have to type anymore.
Insanity.

Damn dude, I actually have a lot of respect for your posts now. You hit the nail on the head. Hell, I'm man enough to admit when I've been a jackass.

It just goes to show you how much these companies (you know verizon will do the same) are willing to milk you out of your hard earned money. I have no need for unlimited texting, as I have the old $5/200 text a month option on my contract, which I intend on keeping no matter what, but I can honestly say that I only send about 80 to 130 messages a month. Which probably means that I'm throwing away 70 or more texts a month. I'm sure that there are many others like me that have no use for text messaging, but only use it because I find it a better deal to pay the five bucs for the two hundred messages than paying the ¢20 per message fee if I did not have it. This new scheme by AT&T is completely absurd, and I honestly believe they are straight up robbing people.

Um... I started using google voice for text messaging, and removed my text plan over a year ago.

I was thinking about lowering my SMS plan once iOS5 was released because the bulk of my friends use iDevices but after looking at my detailed bill I would still come out cheaper going with the $20 unlimited plan because my SMS volume to non-iDevices is still too high. Maybe I will just turn off SMS completely and my non-iDevice friends will have to SMS me through Google Voice or something. I can't stand spending $20 on SMS. That is way over priced.