Contract-Free Wireless Carriers: Seven That Set Themselves Apart

 
 
By Michelle Maisto  |  Posted 2013-10-11 Email Print this article Print
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

The contract-free wireless market is growing fast, and the lines between prepaid and postpaid customers are blurring, in part due to T-Mobile's departure, earlier this year, from the two-year-contract business model that has been the wireless industry's bread and butter. Every major carrier now has a contract-free side brand, if not several. (Sprint has at least four.) To stand out in an increasingly crowded market, where low prices only take you so far, brands are increasingly pushing a distinguishing trait. Less generously, one might call it a gimmick. "The no-contract wireless industry is more competitive than ever these days, with big players like Target and AT&T launching their own brands," Omar Abhari, senior vice president of no-contract carrier GIV Mobile, told eWEEK. "Every wireless player must now have a component that convinces subscribers to switch to their service, since more than 98 percent of Americans own a cell phone. Basically, every potential customer is tied to another wireless carrier." We've rounded up seven no-contract carriers—including GIV Mobile, whose "component" is that it supports charities—that have found unique ways and offers that help them stand apart from the crowd.

 
 
 
  • Contract-Free Wireless Carriers: Seven That Set Themselves Apart

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

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