AT&T’s experiment with a separately branded prepaid mobile service is about to go nationwide. Aio Wireless will be available to any U.S. customer in mid-September via its online portal.
My colleague Kevin Tofel covered the details of Aio’s pricing in May when AT&T took the service live in Houston, Tx. and Tampa and Orlando, Fla. The unlimited talk and texting plans come with data buckets ranging in size from 250 MB to 7 GB. Customers can select from Aio’s feature phones or smartphones or bring their own AT&T-compatible device.
Aio’s hefty and cheap data plans clearly target heavy data users unwilling to sign up for AT&T’s contracts. That’s why it was odd that at launch Aio didn’t run over AT&T’s LTE network, only its HSPA systems. AT&T quickly rectified that in June, however, sending out an update to customer’s SIM cards that allowed their phones to tap into the LTE network.
Now that the service makes a bit more sense, AT&T has been using Aio to strike at T-Mobile and its no-contract inexpensive smartphone plans. AT&T certainly isn’t keeping its intended target secret. It’s home page states loud and clear “Say Goodbye to T-Mobile.”
T-Mobile is fighting back, though it’s using a slightly different tactic. It’s suing AT&T, claiming the maroon-ish color Aio uses in its branding is too similar to T-Mo’s characteristic magenta to be a coincidence. Verge reader RJohnstone posted this handy color comparison in that tech news site’s comments section, so you can judge for yourself.