AT&T no longer forcing messaging plans onto texting phones

AT&T Mobility (NYSE:T) dropped a requirement that subscribers who purchase one of the company's "quick messaging devices" also purchase a messaging plan. The carrier quietly discontinued the requirement in February.

AT&T first introduced the condition in January 2010; the carrier required that customers add a $20 per month data plan to their service when they purchased texting-friendly phones like the Samsung Solstice and LG Neon.

The move mirrored a similar action by Verizon Wireless (NYSE:VZ). Early last year, Verizon said shoppers who purchase certain devices--which they classified as "3G Multimedia" phones--would be required to add a minimum $10 data plan to their service. Verizon discontinued that requirement late last year, according to Current Analysis.

An AT&T representative didn't return requests for comments on the topic.

"It was a flat-out confusing requirement," noted Matthew Kunkle, an analyst at Current Analysis. "It was a $20 messaging or data package requirement, yet most of the data and messaging packages weren't $20, so customers had to combine two to make it past the $20 level."

AT&T now recommends that purchasers of its messaging devices also purchase an unlimited texting plan, but it does not require such plans.

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