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Posted: 2:27 p.m. Monday, June 27, 2011

AT&T rolls out $50 no-contract cell plan

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ClarkHoward.com and The Clark Howard Show offer more-money saving advice.

AT&T has a new no-contract cell phone plan that the telecomm giant hopes will help retain customers who are fleeing to lesser-known and cheaper competitors.

Both AT&T and Verizon are suffering market share erosion outside of their corporate base and their wealthiest customers because of so many cheaper options in the marketplace. Back in May, I told you that Verizon was testing out its own sub-brand aimed at the price-sensitive consumer in select markets.

Now AT&T is stepping up to the plate with a prepaid offering of unlimited talk and text (no web access) at $50 a month for GoPhone customers. If you want to add data, you'll need a real smart phone from AT&T and you'll have to pay between $5 to $25 a month extra for the high-speed Internet service.

AT&T and Verizon hope their brand name recognition and new plans will keep customers in the face of the onslaught from TracFone and Metro PCS, the two fastest growing cell companies in America.

TracFone is the company behind Straight Talk, the popular service at Wal-Mart that offers two price points: $45 a month for unlimited everything and $30 a month for 1,000 minutes, 1,000 texts and 30 MB of data. Metro PCS, meanwhile, offers unlimited everything starting at $40 or $50 for smart phone users.

The key thing is if you want a fancy smart phone, I'd suggest you go with somebody other than AT&T or Verizon if you want a decent deal. On the other hand, if you just want basic unlimited calling and texting, and you're comfortable with the brand name, then I say you stay with one of the two bigs.

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