Target has confirmed that it plans to join retail rival Walmart in offering low-cost wireless service.
Available Oct. 6, the service will be called Brightspot and, as reported earlier by Droid Life, it will run on the T-Mobile network. Target shared the news Oct. 2 on A Bull's Eye View, its behind-the-scenes blog.
Target says Brightspot will be as easy as 1, 2, 3.
First, pick a T-Mobile prepaid plan, ranging from $35 for a talk-and-text only plan to $50 for unlimited talk, texting and Internet use.
Second, choose a phone. Target has a broad portfolio of devices, from feature phones to the Apple iPhone 5S. If you already have a phone you like, you can keep it and just purchase a SIM Kit, which will allow the Brightspot service to run on all compatible, unlocked phones (basically, any phone that was purchased to operate on the T-Mobile or AT&T networks).
Third, says Target, "Enjoy the savings." (So, really a two-step effort, then.) For every six months of Brightspot service, Target will send a customer a $25 Target gift card. Plus, Target REDcard holders will receive 5 percent off their service.
According to Droid Life, which seems to have gotten hold of some Brightspot marketing materials in advance, Target is taking aim at both Walmart and market leader Verizon Wireless, pointing out that a Brightspot plan can save subscribers $960 compared with two years of service with a Verizon postpaid plan.
Further, it points out that Brightspot users "can use savings to buy [the] iPhone 5 and use on Brightspot," rather than paying $200 for the phone with Verizon.
Walmart's Straight Talk, Target also points out, offers no rewards, and most of its users are stuck on 3G, unlike the 4G speeds offered by the T-Mobile-backed Brightspot.
Target has for some time been selling smartphones, paired with plans from the largest carriers, in its electronics store.
With Brightspot, T-Mobile may be hoping to capture the even more value-conscious customers than it has in its stores and with its "un-carrier moves."
Such moves have included getting rid of two-year contracts, offering monthly device payment plans and enabling subscribers to upgrade their devices every six months.
On Oct. 2, T-Mobile kicked off what it's calling "upgrade season" by announcing that it's offering the Samsung Galaxy Note 3 phablet, Galaxy S 4 smartphone and Galaxy Note II tablet, as well as the LG G2 smartphone, for no money down. The devices can be had for 24 monthly payments ranging from $24 a month for the Note II to $29.50 per month for the Note 3.
"What's better than zero dollars down on some of the latest and most in-demand smartphones with no annual service contracts, a program that lets you upgrade up to twice a year ... plus unlimited data on our blazing fast nationwide network?" T-Mobile Chief Marketing Officer Mike Sievert asked in an Oct. 2 statement.
Target may be hoping that the answer is a $25 gift card twice a year.