T-Mobile USA has unveiled two new prepaid plans that emphasize texting over talking. The announcement is in line with what other prepaid providers are offering — big bundles of services from voice to email and internet access for one low price without the commitment of a contract.
While they represent fairly good bargains, it’s unclear how much this growing segment of the U.S. market is interested in adding all of the bells and whistles to a prepaid plan. Instead of offering on an unlimited basis, T-Mobile’s new plans are a little less comprehensive. For $15 a month, users can have unlimited texting and calls for 10 cents a minute. For $50 a month, you get unlimited texting and talking. For occasional data use, T-Mobile offers a “Hour Pass,” which provides unlimited Web access for 99 cents an hour.
Sprint (NYSE: S) is being the most aggressive in the prepaid market, by launching several brands including Virgin Mobile (NYSE: VM), Boost Mobile and even an exclusive brand available at Wal-Mart (NYSE: WMT) called Common Cents Mobile. The Virgin Mobile “Beyond Talk” offer also stresses texting over talking. At the low end, it costs $25 for unlimited messaging, email, data and Web with 300 voice minutes a month. For $40, you get 1,200 minutes, and for $60, you get unlimited calling. The Wal-Mart brand offers no unlimited buckets, but rather charges seven cents per voice minute, and seven cents for each text message under no contract.