AT&T confirmed today that it will dump its $10 per month texting plan next week.

As of Sunday, the U.S. carrier will offer only one texting plan, a $20 per month unlimited message deal for individuals. It will retain the $30 per month family plan, which covers five mobile lines billed to the same household.

Falling by the wayside is the $10 per month plan that includes up to 1,000 messages.

Current customers are grandfathered in, and will see no change in their plans or billing, said AT&T.

"The vast majority of our messaging customers prefer unlimited plans and with text messaging growth stronger than ever, that number continues to climb among new customers," AT&T said in a statement today as explanation.

Earlier this year, AT&T culled a pair of plans -- $5 per month for 200 messages and $15 per month for 1,500 -- in favor of the $10 for 1,000 deal.

Rival Verizon, the only other U.S. carrier that sells Apple's iPhone, has several plans, ranging from $5 (250 message) and $10 (500) to $20 per month (unlimited).

Previously, both AT&T and Verizon dumped their all-you-can-consume unlimited data plans for the iPhone, the latter just last month and the former in June 2010 .

Text messaging may become less important to iPhone owners this fall, when Apple releases iOS 5. The mobile operating system upgrade will include "iMessage," a free unlimited text, photo and video service for messaging between iOS 5 devices.

Apple has not revealed a launch date for iOS 5 -- which is expected to ship shortly before or alongside the next iPhone -- but the latest speculation has circled the calendar for early October.

iOS 5 will run on the iPhone 3GS and iPhone 4, iPad and iPad 2, and the third- and fourth-generation iPod Touch.

Gregg Keizer covers Microsoft, security issues, Apple, Web browsers and general technology breaking news for Computerworld. Follow Gregg on Twitter at @gkeizer , on Google+ or subscribe to Gregg's RSS feed . His e-mail address is [email protected] .

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