Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Wal-Mart Debuts Its Own Branded Wireless Plans

Wal-Mart just announced a dirt-cheap mobile phone plan under its own brand name — a first for the department store, which previously only offered low-cost plans in under the Verizon and Sprint brand names. The $45 per month plan is called Wal-Mart Family Mobile, and it includes unlimited text and voice messaging.

Extra lines will cost $25 each (the Verizon/Wal-Mart plan doesn’t offer any discount for additional lines). Wal-Mart Family Mobile plans won’t require contract agreements even though they’re postpaid rather than prepaid. You’ll have to pay by the gigabyte for data, though.

Don’t be too shocked and amazed at this announcement; the retailer isn’t erecting cell phone towers or building a global communications network. Rather, your Wal-Mart Family Mobile phone will technically be running on T-Mobile’s network, but it will be locked to Wal-Mart’s plan and customer support.

The most surprising aspect of the news is actually that the plan is cheaper than comparable plans on T-Mobile. It looks like the carrier was willing to slice its profit margins on individual accounts in order to get the distribution from Wal-Mart.

Wal-Mart will offer five phones with the plan starting at $35; in some cases, they’ll be slightly cheaper than their counterparts on other networks and plans. For example, T-Mobile sells the Motorola Cliq XT for $349 without a contract, but it will just cost $249 from Wal-Mart.

Wal-Mart has always tried to associate its name with very low prices, and this wireless plan is no exception. It could be a game-changer when it comes to bringing handsets to low-income families; but without data or other smartphone amenities included, it doesn’t offer much to tempt most tech-savvy consumers.

[via mashable]


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