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AT&T Wireless slims down rate plans

The wireless carrier is trimming back its bloated lineup of rate plans and will offer about 25 choices starting Monday.

AT&T Wireless has put its bloated lineup of rate plans on a diet.

Starting Monday, the company will offer about 25 choices, AT&T Wireless Vice President Mark Siegel said Friday. Subscribers can either re-up now, or stay on their current plan until it expires, he said.

The carrier once offered "dozens" of different plans, an industry source said. Confusion created by the overwhelming number of rate plans is a chief complaint from the nation's approximately 137 million cell phone subscribers.

Siegel believes AT&T Wireless' new plans "make things a lot clearer."

Any AT&T Wireless subscriber can choose any plan, Siegel said. That's a "dramatic change" from the days when the carrier offered one family of plans for Time Division Multiple Access (TDMA) phones and another for Global System for Mobile Communications (GSM) phones.

The plans cost between $20 to $300 a month. Each includes a limited amount of daytime calling minutes plus free weekend and nighttime calling. The mLife Local plans are the most basic and charge for long distance and roaming.

There are two sets of national plans--mLife National and mLife Digital One Rate--which don't charge for long distance. mLife Digital One Rate subscribers also don't pay roaming charges.