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Summary:

Typically when you sign up for a two-year contract with a wireless carrier, you get to pick a handset — one that is either free or, at the very least, highly subsidized. But AT&T today started offering a new plan that allows you to buy a […]

Typically when you sign up for a two-year contract with a wireless carrier, you get to pick a handset — one that is either free or, at the very least, highly subsidized. But AT&T today started offering a new plan that allows you to buy a SIM card from them, while you bring your own (GSM-compatible) handset.

This would be a great idea if AT&T didn’t insist on a two-year-contract with the SIM card. Instead of being great, this is just a goofy idea. As a customer, why would you sign up for a two-year contract and forgo a free (or highly subsidized) handset that you can sell on eBay and use the proceeds to defray the cost of, say, a new handset of choice? SMS Text News has a first-hand report on this SIM-only plan.

  1. These service providers just don’t get it. Reminds me of the king’s sitting cozyly in their castle deciding on which plough farmers in the field should be using.

    Anyways, had they introduced the same concept of “bring your own phone” (BYOP) for their pre-paid services, I bet their subscription numbers would have seen an increase. Let’s see how this turn out and how long it survives.

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  2. AT&T’s like the retarded person who doesn’t know their retarded.

    They just do this shit expecting people to respond normally, they really believe they’re making sense!

    Add to this, the lunacy of their Internet Filtering chatter the past few days and it just further proves my point.

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  3. This does indeed defy logic – O2 and Orange in the UK have introduced similar SIM-only monthly contracts…but with a 30-day notice period to cancel the contract … now that makes sense

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  4. Dumbest move I have seen to date? Good for AT&T bad for the Consumer. Whats’s a SIM card cost anyways. Come on.

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  5. good move – will have contract option in pay-as-go mode — should get instant hit

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  6. My ONLY reason for replacing my phones in the past has been to replace the failing BATTERY! With the new phones came a battery that usually lasts as long as the contract (2 years). Since I believe I have received very good service, I have not minded the 2-years contract extension. I’ve been with TMOB the past 10 years. Anyway, the addition of color, camera, ring tones, speakerphone and BlueTooth have been icing on the cake; I would not have bought the phones just because of these features.

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  7. [...] contract. We offer a special bonus of the Third Pipe Foil Hat Award to all takers! (article on GigaOm) Share and Enjoy: These icons link to social bookmarking sites where readers can share and [...]

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  8. [...] contract. We offer a special bonus of the Third Pipe Foil Hat Award to all takers! (article on GigaOm) Share and Enjoy: These icons link to social bookmarking sites where readers can share and [...]

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  9. [...] contract. We offer a special bonus of the Third Pipe Foil Hat Award to all takers! (article on GigaOm) Share and Enjoy: These icons link to social bookmarking sites where readers can share and [...]

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  10. The thing is, lots of iPhone customers did the same thing. They bought an iPhone, signed a 2 year agreement, and got no hardware subsidy.

    I can’t blame AT&T for watching this and thinking they ought to at least try it.

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  11. we all expect too much from the operators … man, is this a dumb move?! Now, wouldn’t be funny if the rest followed with competing dumb offers? :)

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  12. The more providers are trying to come up with original offers, the more they confuse the hell out of the consumers. They do not get it.

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  13. I Germany some providers offer you contracts with or without subsidised phone. The contract without a phone (SIM-only) is typically 5 Euros cheaper per month (–> 120 Euros over the 24 month contract).

    Which still doesn’t make too much sense, cause the subsidies are higher than 120 Euros and it’s still better to get a phone and sell it on eBay.

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  14. This may sound naive of me but if we make a big enough deal about this on many blogs and forums does anybody think ATT will listen? This just makes pisses me off because I actually wasted time reading this (not the blog post but the content from ATT). I should charge ATT for my time.

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  15. [...] AT&T’s SIM-Only Offer Defies Logic – GigaOM “This would be a great idea if AT&T didn’t insist on a two-year-contract with the SIM card. As a customer, why would you sign up for a two-year contract and forgo a free (or highly subsidized) handset that you can sell on eBay.” (tags: business dumb mobile telephony) [...]

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  16. [...] new wireless offer, which tacked on a two-year contract to a SIM card (sans handset), was just plain “goofy,” the largest U.S. wireless carrier is saying it was a “mistake” — that the [...]

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  17. [...] new wireless offer, which tacked on a two-year contract to a SIM card (sans handset), was just plain “goofy,” the largest U.S. wireless carrier is saying it was a “mistake” — that the [...]

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  18. [...] new wireless offer, which tacked on a two-year contract to a SIM card (sans handset), was just plain “goofy,” the largest U.S. wireless carrier is saying it was a “mistake” — that the [...]

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  19. [...] AT&T’s SIM-Only Offer Defies Logic [GigaOM] tr { border: 0px } td { cellborder: 10px} table { border: 1px solid black } [...]

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  20. [...] AT&T’s SIM-Only Offer Defies Logic [GigaOM] tr { border: 0px } td { cellborder: 10px} table { border: 1px solid black } [...]

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  21. [...] AT&T’s SIM-Only Offer Defies Logic [GigaOM] tr { border: 0px } td { cellborder: 10px} table { border: 1px solid black } [...]

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  22. Digicel, the largest mobile company in the Caribbean, offers sim-only sales for use with pre-paid service, no contracts or 30-day notification. if you don’t put credit on the card for 45 days, the card expires and you would have to reactivate it.

    I agree that AT&T should allow the sim-only sales for PRE-PAID and not post-paid service. As someone previously pointed out, that could very well grow their customer base because it reduces network switching costs – provided they don’t mind pre-paid service.

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  23. [...] from selling the phone on eBay and keeping the SIM. Why pay $5 to NOT get a free phone? Wired and Gizmodo ran articles on this bizarre offering, and a day later AT&T said they had made a mistake. The [...]

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  24. [...] from selling the phone on eBay and keeping the SIM. Why pay $5 to NOT get a free phone? Wired and Gizmodo ran articles on this bizarre offering, and a day later AT&T said they had made a mistake. The [...]

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  25. [...] from selling the phone on eBay and keeping the SIM. Why pay $5 to NOT get a free phone? Wired and Gizmodo ran articles on this bizarre offering, and a day later AT&T said they had made a mistake. The [...]

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  26. I just got back from a trip to China and Hong Kong, and what another poster put up is dead on, these carriers in the US just don’t get it! I have a China mobile sim card and a hong kong sim card (so close but so far, cheaper having both), both of which I bought at a local convenience store in china and Hong Kong respectively, and I interchange these cards in a cheapo sony unlocked cell phone that a business associate let me use. No contracts with either one, I have a number that I got when I bought the sim card, and once I use up the minutes on each I have to buy more minutes, buying the minutes can be done in a convenience store or over the phone with a credit card, or you can have the service automatically charge your credit card when you get below a certain level of minutes (you set the min/max). These carriers in the US really need to get a clue with this. There are carriers in China and Hong Kong that offer plans as well, but they give you a discount on the phone when you do this. It’s a joke that ATT thinks they can lock people into a multi year commitment while not subsidizing the equipment, that is unless they offer some amazing deal for supplying your own equipment. It would be great if one GSM carrier would offer a sim card in the US similar to the ease they offer them in China and Hong Kong.

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    1. Hmm, very interesting indeed. I have worked in Africa for the past 3 and a half years. at least all the countries in West Africa I have been to are on the sim-card bus. Whenever I need recharged I buy a scratch card and activate over the phone. Heck a $20 scratch card to recharge my sim lasts me a month sometimes. I travel back to the Sates via the EU. It turns out that the EU is also on this band wagon. When I am in Africa–Liberia, Sierra-Leon, Cote de ‘vor, Ghana, there are 3 or 4 carries that have cards for sale in $5, $10, $20, $50, $100′s. When I go through the EU I change over to my BASE Sim there. You can also get Orange, or others at any convenience store on the corner. When I get home to the USA though, I use T-Mobil. I have the same T-Mobil sim for the past 3 years or more, and just recharge it when home by going to the local Mall. No service plan, and as long as I add $20 per year it never goes inactive. I have to admit though, I wish T-Mobil had as good of coverage as AT&T in my area. The upside is I can use any unlocked phone I want. It is upsetting that the USA is so far behind the rest of the world on this and so many other things. USA–When are you going to wake up–you are stealing us blind with your schemes.

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  27. It’s great to have sim-ony as an option. Why should you pay more every month for a phone while your old one is still great.

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  28. Sim Only is a very trusted and cheap calling/text method. Prices are dropping and people get mostly unlmited texts.

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  29. “As a customer, why would you sign up for a two-year contract and forgo a free (or highly subsidized) handset that you can sell on eBay and use the proceeds to defray the cost of, say, a new handset of choice?”

    Maybe because they like the phone they already have.

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  30. [...] from selling the phone on eBay and keeping the SIM. Why pay $5 to NOT get a free phone? Wired and Gizmodo ran articles on this bizarre offering, and a day later AT&T said they had made a mistake. The [...]

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  31. They do this in the UK except you don’t have to sign up for 2 years. It’s a monthly rolling contract so they rent you the sim card and in exchange for not getting a handset, you get more minutes and texts, etc – and because it’s a rolling contract you can cancel it at any time so you’re not stuck in it for 2 years. Sounds like AT&T need to catch themselves on!

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  32. how much does just a new sim card cost?

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  33. Sim only deals within the UK have turned out to be a dead duck. Not only do you not get a phone but you only get a 10% discount. You would be better off taking a contract with phone and selling it. http://www.simonlydealsuk.com was the market leader but have decided to scale back due to the low takeup.

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  34. Sim only plans are really popular and becoming even more popular as mobile phones are becoming more expensive

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