Well, a couple of things here.
As to Tracfone, they've dropped the super deal with the Motorola v170 and $50 card for the price of the card plus tax. They still have the Nokia 1100 deal (the one with the $20 card) as well as one with a $130 card and a new phone ratehr than a refurbished one (doesn't really make a difference as refurb units are excellent quality). As to their CDMA selection, it is still pitiful online, with only the Motorola v120 available (in a promotion similar to that of the Nokia 1100 on GSM). If anyone wants the Nokia 2126, I'll send 'em for $30 activated or unactivated but in either case rid of the large packaging, as my local Wal-Mart has them in stock.
Tracfone's TDMA selection is looking up however, though it is still ailing. They now offer the Motorola v60 flip, though just in areas that offer TDMA service only (zip 26121 is a way to get the phone). The new phone alone is $60 plus tax, though the promo code 80041 may take 15% off the price. The new phone with a double-minute card is $140 so if you can sell the double-minute card for $100 you have a reasonable priced flip phone. One small problem: the v60's TDMA version has been badly reviewed, as has the v120's CDMA version, though it will probably still work to some extent.
Now, about Virgin Mobile's SMS. I've been informed that as of March 15th the pricing will change from 10 cents to send\free to receive to 5 cents both ways, the same as STi. If you send more texts than you receive this is a turn for the better but if you use SMS search functions, most of which generate several results messages, or use an SMS alerts service, here's an advance warning to look elsewhere, to either Beyond Wireless or T-Mobile, depending on what is in your area.
And for the final topic: Alltel's upcoming prepaid plan. Scheduled to arrive on the 25th (and relying on information someone else posted so don't kill me if this doesn't happen as I want it to be as well :) ) is something similar to Virgin Mobile except better. First off, it uses the "Simple Freedom" combined Verizon\Alltel home network, which covers a lot of ground, as home territory, with roaming at a bearable 59 cents a minute. Second, the plans are competitive and the Most Called Number option leaves a nice loophole for a cheap long distance card. :) Text messaging, if not included in your plan, is five cents both ways, better than the previous 8 cents. One con: I don't know phone prices yet, but I do know that activation is $35, though that might get you a 99 cent phone.
The traditional perpaid option is 15 cents a minute. You refill with at least $10 and activate with at least $20 beyond the activation fee. The pay-by-day option lets you pick either nights\weekends, M2M (with other Alltel users), text messaging, or a single Most Called Number as unlimited for 75 cents a day for two, plus 25 cents a day per other service, so $1.25 for everything. Maybe a long-distance calling card would be a nice candidate for the Most Called Number; 10 cents a minute for calls not covered in one of your "free" categories is cheap for prepaid but still not as good as a normal calling card, which can be 2.5 cents a minute fairly easily (www.phoneshark.com is where I get mine). I might as well just copy the hybrid plan options:
***** Pay per month
• Customers must pay in advance for the monthly recurring charges for this rate plan type.
•$29.99 – 200 peak, 1,000 Night & Weekend minutes, $.35 post-package rate
•$39.99 – 400 peak, 2,000 Night & Weekend minutes, $.35 post-package rate
•$69.99 – 700 peak, Unlimited Night & Weekend minutes, Unlimited M2M, and Unlimited Text messaging, $.10 post-package rate
•M2M can’t be purchased for the $29.99 or the $39.99 plans
•The $29.99 or $39.99 plans also have the option of purchasing the $5.99 or $9.99 SMS packages.
•One Most Often Called (MOC) number can be purchased for $5 per month on any package plan. This number can be any landline or wireless number, anywhere in the US.
Is it just me or does that sound pretty good for prepaid? I hope it comes through.
Speaking of pretty good for prepaid, I'm also wondering whether there will be a 14-day free trial on the upcoming ReadyLink+Web bundle on STi. If there is, what a nice way to try out alternative means of walkie-talkie :)