Thursday, July 13, 2006

A Tale of Four Carriers

When I first thought of doing this post I thought I was only going to do it about two carriers: Movida and Airlink Mobile. But when I was looking for Movida's rates I came across an article about the MVNO on (never heard of them until yesterday). After reading a few more articles I saw a link to Beyond Wireless GSM and above that link, or rather ad minibanner, was an ad for Total Call Mobile. Lastly, I decided to include Sprint's own new offering, its first just-for-no-contracts offering.

Speaking of Sprint, that's the carrier that all four of these services run on. Here's to variety!

These guys have been around for a little while now, and thus have upgraded their phones from the lowly Nokia 2270 to such models as the LG 125 and 225, at $50 and $100 each. Wait! Aren't those the same two phone models that STi Mobile sells? Yup. It seems Sprint has an overstock of them and wants to get rid of them...for cheap. Another phone the two carriers have in common, and probably for the same reason, is the Sanyo 200. The only thing obviously different between STi and Movida versions of the LG phones is that Movida phones have the Movida logo instead of the STi Mobile logo on the outside. Movida also has the UTStarcom 7000 (the company that was Audiovox) for $50, a phone that you'll see popping up all over the Sprint-based prepaid market (yeah, there are lots of little-known Sprint-based prepaids, mostly hybrids, out there).

The packages are a bit different too, though both carriers use yellow a lot...but I digress. Movida hable espanol primo lingo. I don't. :) STi doesn't either. But you can "Press 2 for English" and the package has English on it also.

But personally, aside from free incoming text, I don't see too much of a reason for an English-speaker to prefer these guys over anyone else, except maybe in special cases. Their MovidaUno plan is a flat 20 cents per minute. Virgin Mobile is two cents per minute cheaper, and their phones are cheaper, at least for low-end models. Their MovidaPlus plan is 50 cents per day, INPulse style (every single day; $14-$15.50 a month, at least to my knowledge) plus 10 cents per minute on weekdays or (!) 5 cents a minute on weekends. All refill cards, starting at $20, last 60 days. Calling Mexico on the former plan is 5 cents a minute extra, 10 cents a minute extra on the latter plan. Latino-oriented services, as well as cheaper (not cheap) international long distance to Central and South America abound. But prob ably most of us here aren't looking for that. Hence its clear purpose as a niche carrier.

AirLink Mobile
When I walked into Cumberland Farms last night to see and sputter at STi Mobile (their $100 mail-in rebate for my LG 225 camera phone is several months overdue) I almost thought they were selling Cingular GoPhones, with this carrier's similar orange-and-blue color scheme. But when I saw the phone, a UTStarcom 7000 (see I told ya it's a common one) for a mere $29.95 I knew these guys were something different. Of course they're on Sprint. And out of the dark recesses of my mind I remembered that they were hybrid. They are, or rather they're a contract carrier without the contract or the extra fees.

You see, you pay $40+ per month for unlimited nights and weekends and a small pool o anytime minutes...with your credit card or other similar means of payment. Overages are bought with "Select Talk Minutes" (whatever those are). They are, however, a little better of a deal than STi Mobile's Plan 3, even the $10 option which is also cheaper per month, though their nights start at 9 versus STi's 7 p.m. (by the way both these guys' "nights end at 6:59 a.m.; Virgin Mobile's? Midnight; that's why they're now called "Prmetime Minutes")...

$10 buys 30 weekday minutes and lasts 7 days
$20 buys 90 and lasts 14
$30 buys 150 and lasts 21
$50 buys 350 and lasts 30
$75 buys 750 and lasts 30

Interested? Me either. I don't talk that much...but then again I am not\have not a girlfriend ;)

Total Call Mobile
I need to call these guys. If their phones aren't too expensive, I'm switching from STi Mobile. Yeah, they show that much promise.

You see, they too offer the LG 225 (deja vu) and the UTStarcom 7000 (deja vu all over again) for what price I know not. But I do know that they promise cheap international long distance (didn't look at pricing; I don't call outside the US) and for national calls the price is a mere 10 cents a minute! Yeah, I know that Net10 and Amp'd have this price but a $10 card on Total Call lasts 60 days, as opposed to $30 (Net10) or $20 (Amp'd). Which means that with no hassles I can use 50 minutes a month for $5 a month. Nice. Text messages are nothing special, at 5 cents per message both ways. And with the LG 225 as their flagship phone they have room to grow. I hope they do.

Sprint Month To Month Calling Plan
This plan, only available for Sprint PCS (Nextel has Boost Mobile's $50-a-month Premium plan with significantly more features), is a first for the company: something designed specifically for no-contract users with the Sprint brand name on it. The price: $39.99 a month,with no asterisks mentioning extra fees! If that's true then yay Sprint. If not then welcome to ripof city. Anyway, what you get is 200 minutes a month. That's it, though overages are charged at $10 for 100 minutes up to 1000 additional, then 10 cents a minute.

But you can add free roaming (nice!), unlimited nights starting at 7 (nothing about weekends) and\or unlimited mobile-to-mobile for $5 apiece per month. Not to shabby considering this is a month-to-month plan. Normally roaming is 50 cents a minute plus 25 cents long distance (the latter charge may or may not be charged). Compare this to Verizon EasyPay's you-can't-get-out-of-it 99 cent roaming charge when using towers other than Verizon's.

But then again the plan is pretty expensive (20 cents a minute) for what it delivers, and you'll get zero subsidies on phones. Ouch! But then again Sprint's "before service credits" prices on their phones aren't as ridiculously high as their iDEN half's are.I'll find out exactly how high tomorrow. But then again, this is more geared for higher minute users. But then again it's intersting to see.

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