Contract-Free Wireless Carriers: Seven That Set Themselves Apart

1 - Contract-Free Wireless Carriers: Seven That Set Themselves Apart
2 - Brightspot From Target Makes Its Debut
3 - Brightspot From Target Offers Discounts
4 - Charity-Focused GIV Mobile
5 - How GIV Mobile Gives
6 - Solavei: Wireless and an "Opportunity"
7 - Solavei Marketplace
8 - Freedom Phone: Free Service
9 - The Freemium Model
10 - Jennifer Lopez's Viva Móvil
11 - Viva Móvil and the Latino Consumer
12 - Consumer Cellular Starts at $10
13 - Consumer Cellular: Looking Out for Seniors
14 - Cricket Wireless
15 - Muve Music
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Contract-Free Wireless Carriers: Seven That Set Themselves Apart

by Michelle Maisto

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Brightspot From Target Makes Its Debut

On Oct. 7, Target introduced Brightspot, a new contract-free wireless service that runs on the T-Mobile network. Plans start at $35 a month, or at $50 a month for unlimited talk, texting and data at 4G speeds. Users can buy a phone from Target or use one they have by buying a Brightspot SIM.

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Brightspot From Target Offers Discounts

Unique to Brightspot is that Target RedCard holders can use the card to get 5 percent off phones and plans, and for every six months of service they pay for, Target will send them a $25 GiftCard.

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Charity-Focused GIV Mobile

GIV Mobile, a Ptel Mobile brand, offers unlimited service that starts at $40 per month. Uniquely, it gives 8 percent of a subscriber's monthly payment to a charity (or charities—it's possible to choose up to three) of the subscriber's choice.

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How GIV Mobile Gives

GIV recently announced it will also donate "up to $50 annually per customer to a charity." Every other year, GIV has a period of open submissions during which members can nominate new charities to include.

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Solavei: Wireless and an "Opportunity"

Solavei offers contract-free and unlimited voice, texting and 4G data for $49 a month. Its twist is that it pays customers for getting their friends to join. As of February, at least one user was making $20,000 a month from Solavei, based on her referrals.

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Solavei Marketplace

On Oct. 9, Solavei introduced the Solavei Marketplace. It ties the Solavei Card—an account the carrier credits, when users earn payments—with offers and discounts from thousands of retailers.

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Freedom Phone: Free Service

Wireless service provider FreedomPop now offers Freedom Phone, the "first-ever 100 percent free smartphone service," according to the company. It offers 500MB of data, 200 anytime minutes and 500 text messages on the house; if you need more, you can pay for it.

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The Freemium Model

Freedom Phone has proven incredibly popular. On a recent visit to the site, to check on availability in New York City, it said to check back "in the coming weeks," and the reason offered was "overwhelming demand," as the company was currently sold out of phones. It currently only supports the HTC Evo Design, though later this year plans to add more Android-running phones.

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Jennifer Lopez's Viva Móvil

In May, with help from Brightstar, actress Jennifer Lopez launched Viva Móvil, an MVNO (mobile virtual network operator) on the Verizon Wireless network focused on Latinos. All of its stores have English- and Spanish-speaking representatives and a place for kids to play. Latinos have $1 trillion in buying power and represent 56 percent of U.S. population growth, according to the brand. "This is our time," Lopez has said of Latinos. "It's kind of hard to ignore us."

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Viva Móvil and the Latino Consumer

Latinos have $1 trillion in buying power and represent 56 percent of U.S. population growth, according to the brand. "This is our time," Lopez has said of Latinos. "It's kind of hard to ignore us."

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Consumer Cellular Starts at $10

Consumer Cellular offers voice-only plans that start at $10 per month, while light data plans start at $2.50 per month and lines can be shared between users. For $10 a month, the carrier will also treat a wireless home phone like another cell phone line.

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Consumer Cellular: Looking Out for Seniors

Consumer Cellular offers a risk-free 30-day money-back guarantee. It offers its best rates, though, to members of AARP, with which it has a special relationship.

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Cricket Wireless

Cricket offers contract-free smartphone plans with unlimited talk, text and LTE-speed data starting at $50 a month. But it has set itself apart with Muve Music, an app that lets users download an unlimited number of songs to their phones—from a selection of millions—and listen to them any time, free of charge.

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Muve Music

In July, Cricket updated Muve Music, redesigning the user interface to make it easier to use and including Muve Mixes, custom playlists created by "experts" that users can download to their music libraries. In August, the carrier made Muve Music available on all of its Android smartphone plans.

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