Ina Fried

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AT&T’s New Plans Will Mean Higher Bills for Many

AT&T is being quick to point out that the cost per megabyte is going down with the new rate plans it announced on Thursday.

However, because each of its three phone data plans is going up by $5 a month, the fact is that many new customers will be paying more each month. It also means that those who sign up for the new 3 gigabyte plan will be paying the same $30 a month that customers paid 18 months ago for an unlimited plan. It also means that the least a new customer can pay to have even minimal data on a smartphone is now $20 a month. (Existing customers can keep their existing plan, AT&T stresses.)

And all this is coming from a carrier that until recently was promising it wouldn’t hike rates as part of its pitch to acquire T-Mobile USA. But now, even without a deal, it appears higher prices are on the horizon.

It’s not the first time AT&T has found a way to change its plans in a way that is not necessarily a straight price hike, but is nonetheless likely to lead to higher average bills. Last August, the company dropped an option for new customers that allowed 1,000 text messages for $10 a month. That leaves new customers having to choose between only two options: Paying for an unlimited number of texts or paying a high rate for each such message sent.

The move also came as many customers are shifting part of their messaging habit to data-based services such as Apple’s iMessage. However, even those agressively moving their texts to alternate services may want to receive text messages for certain kinds of alerts.

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Nobody was excited about paying top dollar for a movie about WikiLeaks. A film about the origins of would have done better.

— Gitesh Pandya of comments on the dreadful opening weekend box office numbers for “The Fifth Estate.”