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AT&T to scrap affordable data options for GoPhone users

AT&T is eliminating certain data plans available to its GoPhone prepaid customers. The company says new plans are coming.

Screenshot by Lance Whitney/CNET

It's going to be a little tougher to be an AT&T GoPhone smartphone customer.

AT&T confirmed to CNET that it is eliminating a few of its more affordable data plan options on June 20. A company representative said that new plans would emerge in the coming weeks, but didn't specify whether there would be a more budget-friendly option, noting only that there would be a "variety of plans."

"We're making some changes to our AT&T GoPhone prepaid plans to simplify our offers and better align with what customers are choosing and telling us they want," the company said in a statement. "We've begun letting customers know about the changes in advance, and we'll have more information on new, additional plan options soon."

The $25 monthly plan, which includes unlimited text messages and 250 minutes of voice calls, currently has the option to add a 50-megabyte plan for an additional $5 a month, a 200MB plan for $15, and a 1GB plan for $25. After the changes, the only available plan will be the $5, 50MB plan, which is a frustratingly small amount of data for any smartphone user.

The current $50 plan, which includes unlimited calls and text messages, also requires an additional data plan. But under the changes, those add-on options will no longer be available.

The only plan left, and presumably the plan that customers will gravitate towards, is the top-tier $65 plan, which bundles together unlimited voice calls, text messages, and 1 gigabyte of data.

The changes come as AT&T attempts to curry more favor with prepaid customers. While the wireless industry has traditionally focused on customers willing to sign contracts, the slowdown in growth in that area has companies such as AT&T looking to different areas.

GoPhone has been AT&T's primary prepaid service, and has typically been associated with a limited selection of phones options. But the company is testing out a new prepaid service called Aio Wireless (pronounced AY-oh) in select markets that includes the iPhone 5 as an option (albeit a pricey $649.99 option).

AT&T, however, faces stiff competition in the no-contract business. T-Mobile has eschewed contracts entirely, and Sprint Nextel, through its Virgin Mobile and Boost Mobile units, has been a popular option for prepaid customers.