AT&T to Require Messaging and Data Plans for Feature Phones
The pricing war between cell phone providers has resulted in constantly changing rates and lots of fine print. The latest change comes from AT&T, which has decided to start charging mandatory messaging fees on an array of feature phones.
Feature phones lie somewhere between smart phones, which are designed to browse the Web and handle other data-intensive tasks, and basic cell phones designed to make phone calls and little else. Feature phones have traditionally focused on playing music and video and other limited functionality.
Mandatory data plans are commonplace for smartphones. Feature phone customers have usually had the option to include text messaging and even limited data for an extra fee, but it wasn't required.
AT&T's new policy will require a messaging and data fee for the following phones: Pantech Reveal, Pantech Impact, Motorola Karma, Samsung Flight, Samsung Impression, Samsung Magnet, Samsung Solstice, Samsung Mythic, Samsung Propel, LG Xenon, LG Neon, and the LG Vu.
These phones are referred to as "Quick Messaging" phones. Users who purchase these phones will have to pay $5 per month for 200 SMS (text) and MMS (pictures or video) messages and $15 per month for unlimited data. That's an additional $20 per month on top of the voice plan, and the other plans only get more expensive. Current owners of these phones won't have to pay these additional fees, just new users.
These feature phones are traditionally not used for data-intensive tasks, like smartphones are, so making a data plan mandatory could be a way for AT&T to create extra revenue without putting as much strain on their data network.