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AT&T Inc. introduces parental-control plan

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AT&T Inc., operator of the biggest U.S. mobile-phone service, introduced a feature parents can use to limit the time of day and number of minutes their children talk on a wireless handset.

Parents can also control the phone's text messaging and Internet downloads, AT&T said in a statement today. Users can change the controls through the company's Web site and single out phone numbers that their children can dial anytime.

AT&T and competitors such as Verizon Wireless are pursuing younger customers as growth slows among older subscribers. The number of U.S. wireless users ages 5 through 9 will grow from less than 800,000 in 2005 to more than 8 million in 2010, according to a report last year from research firm IDC.

The parental-control plan from San Antonio-based AT&T costs $4.99 a month per line and works with any phone. It isn't available to customers who pay in advance for wireless minutes.