AT&T, like Verizon Wireless, has introduced new pricing plans, available as of Jan. 18.
iPhone and other smartphone customers on the AT&T network can now buy-or switch from existing plans without penalty or obligation of contract extension-an unlimited voice and data plan for $99.99. Those with Family Talk plans can now purchase unlimited voice and data for $179.99-a price that assumes two smartphones.
"Our new plans reflect customers' continuing desire to do more with their phones-including talking and browsing the Web at the same time," said Ralph de la Vega, president and CEO of AT&T Mobility and Consumer Markets, in a statement. "Plus, these new plans make it even more attractive to choose AT&T, which already offers customers the best 3G experience and the industry's most popular and innovative devices."
AT&T feature-phone customers can now choose unlimited talk for $69.99, and Family Talk customers, again with two lines, can purchase an unlimited talk plan for $119.99. The same rates additionally apply to new plans for its quick-messaging devices, AT&T announced.
Customers who don't choose unlimited voice plans receive AT&T's Rollover service, which lets customers keep any unused minutes from the previous month. To switch to any of the new plans, AT&T customers can visit www.att.com/wireless.
Sprint reiterated that its Simply Everything plans still offer unlimited nationwide calling, texting and surfing for $99.99 a month, with Family Plans also available.
"Our affordable Everything Data plans offer some of the best values for the growing number of wireless users who want to do more with their phones than just talk," said Bob H. Johnson, Sprint president of CDMA, in a statement. "Whether they want to text, Tweet, check their social networks or catch up on work e-mail, they can do it all on Sprint phones without worrying about the bill."
Citing data from the CTIA Semi-Annual Wireless Industry Survey, Sprint points out that mobile Internet use has grown by almost 50 percent over the last two years, with 35 percent of Americans surveyed in December 2009 reporting they used the mobile Internet, compared with 24 percent in December 2007.
Additionally, text messaging traffic nearly doubled over last year-rising from 75 billion messages in June 2008 to 135.2 billion messages in June 2009-while picture and multimedia messages more than doubled, from 4.7 billion in June 2008 to 10.3 billion a year later.
"With text and data use on the rise, consumers can stretch their wireless dollars by choosing a pricing plan that builds in unlimited use of these features," analyst Bill Ho, with Current Analysis, said in a statement from Sprint.
Verizon Wireless' new plans, announced Jan. 15, include lowering its nationwide unlimited talk plan from $99.99 to $69.99. Its Nationwide Unlimited Talk and Text, which includes photo and video messaging, is now $89.99 per month.
Data packages for Verizon 3G smartphones, such as the Motorola Droid, however, are unchanged.
Editor's Note: This story has been updated to clarify that pricing for Sprint's Simply Everything plans is not new.