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AT&T tries pushing customers to new wireless plans with price hikes on old ones

AT&T tries pushing customers to new wireless plans with price hikes on old ones

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Unlimited and Mobile Share plans could cost up to $6 a month more for a single line

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Illustration by Alex Castro / The Verge

In a bid to push people to its newer plans, AT&T is raising the price of some of its older Unlimited and Mobile Share plans. Single-line users will see up to a $6 a month increase, and people with family plans could have up to $12 a month added to their bills, according to Bloomberg.

In a statement to The Verge, AT&T spokesperson Seth Bloom said, “we are encouraging our customers to explore our newer plans which offer many additional features, more flexibility for each line on their account and, in many cases, a lower monthly cost.” AT&T also said that affected customers started finding out this week and that the price changes will go into effect starting June 1st.

In 2019, the company increased the prices of its Mobile Share Value data plans by adding a “bonus” 15GB of data a month that you couldn’t opt out of and that bumped the price of your plan up by $10. In 2018, customers that had grandfathered unlimited plans also saw their monthly bill increase from $40 to $45.

Bloom said that AT&T isn’t publishing the list of affected plans but said that affected customers “will receive a bill message and an email” from AT&T, which “may indicate that the customer may be interested in one of our more current plans either to save on their monthly charge or get additional features for a slightly higher cost each month.” He did, however, confirm that the company's current plans wouldn’t be affected — including its $50 a month (for a single line) 4GB plan.

There is a list of the retired plans on its support site, however, showing the many variations of Unlimited and Mobile Share plans that have been retired between 2016 and 2020. If you sign in using this link, you can see what plan you’re on.

The company’s current Unlimited Starter plan comes with unlimited (of course) talk, text, and data, access to 5G, and 3GB of hotspot data a month, along with a few other perks. It starts at $65 a month for a single line but drops down to $30 per line once you have five lines.

There’s also the company’s recently introduced $50 a month Value Plus plan, which isn’t listed as an unlimited plan but comes with unlimited talk, text, and data (and which includes 5G). That plan, however, is only available for single-line customers. The company also offers a $45 a month “Unlimited Max” plan through Walmart, which includes 10GB of hotspot data.

Of course, the word “unlimited” is automatically suspect when carriers use it anyways. In 2011, AT&T got itself into trouble for throttling “unlimited” plans. Nowadays, carriers bill actually being unlimited as a selling point for one of their few “unlimited” plans.

It’s been a while since people who still have the older Unlimited and Mobile Share plans got a price hike, but now AT&T has something it can easily blame for it: inflation. Last month, in what turned out to be a signal that this move was coming, CEO John Stankey predicted that AT&T would start raising prices “over the next several quarters” thanks to inflation, according to The Wall Street Journal. He also predicted that basically everyone would do the same, inside and outside the telecom industry.

Update May 3rd, 6:03PM ET: Added confirmation from AT&T that its current plans aren’t getting a price bump.