Ina Fried

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New AT&T Customers to Face Tough Choice on Text Messages

AT&T is doing away with its bundled text message option, leaving new customers with two choices — pay $20 for unlimited texting or shell out 20 cents each time their friend sends them a text message asking “YT?”

“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,” AT&T said. “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.”

Those already using a bundled plan — such as the $10 for 1,000 text messages option — can keep their existing plan, even if they change handsets, AT&T said.

The move comes as the U.S. has passed the Philippines to become the most text message-addicted country, according to a new report from wireless analyst Chetan Sharma. Americans now average about 664 messages per subscriber per month. That means, though, that the average person here would still be better off with the $10 per month plan that AT&T is eliminating.

AT&T’s shift was reported earlier on Thursday by Engadget.

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I think the NSA has a job to do and we need the NSA. But as (physicist) Robert Oppenheimer said, “When you see something that is technically sweet, you go ahead and do it and argue about what to do about it only after you’ve had your technical success. That is the way it was with the atomic bomb.”

— Phil Zimmerman, PGP inventor and Silent Circle co-founder, in an interview with Om Malik