Wal-Mart definitely has clout when it comes to getting deals with the wireless carriers. Since last year, they’ve been the exclusive seller of the Verizon-based Straight Talk service. They’re also trying out a similar service called Common Cents from Sprint. Now, they will be teaming up with T-Mobile USA to bring Wal-Mart Family Mobile.
Straight Talk and Common Cents are both prepaid plans. According to Greg Hall, vice president of merchandising at Wal-Mart U.S., “there’s a perception among customers that prepaid service doesn’t offer access to the best phones or the best network quality.” I would definitely agree with him here. Family Mobile will combat this perception by being introduced as a postpaid plan.
The only similarity between Wal-Mart’s plans and a traditional postpaid plan is the fact that you pay the bill at the end of the month. There will be no credit checks, early termination fees, or contracts. Unlimited calling and texting will start at $45 per month for the first line and $25 for each additional line for the family.
“What we saw was an opening in the marketplace for really bringing family savings and a family plan and T-Mobile was a great partner there.” — Greg Hall
Interesting to note about Wal-Mart Family Mobile is that it undercuts T-Mobile’s own prices. Leave it to Wal-Mart to make one of the cheapest carriers even less expensive. T-Mobile still feels they are benefiting from the deal, though. Chief operating officer Jim Alling says that Wal-Mart putting their brand name on the service is a “”tremendous endorsement.” Even as it undercuts T-Mobile’s postpaid prices, the new service still gives T-Mobile an extra revenue stream based on customers it probably couldn’t reach before.
Starting today, you can choose between five phones on the service. The Motorola Cliq XT will run $249, giving customers an option for a full-fledged smartphone. This is something severely lacking with most prepaid services. You can also grab a Nokia for $35.
There is still a prepaid piece to the service. The Family Mobile plan includes a small amount of data, so you can use a prepaid pool to pay for addition data usage for your family. For example, $40 will get you 1GB of data to share between all lines. While this is almost double what some contract customers pay, you get to carry your balance over from month to month.