## Wednesday, August 29, 2007

### News: Tracfone, iWireless (a different one), T-Mobile, Virgin Mobile

Sorry for not posting recently. Homework and a feeling that nothing was happening and prepaid caused this inaction. On the second part, I guess I was wrong...

1. Tracfone LG CG225 for $59.99 at Target.com ($20 cheaper than elsewhere, but no $50-value double minutes) http://www.target.com/gp/detail.html/ref=br_1_3/601-1866207-3870565?ie=UTF8&frombrowse=1&asin=B000UOCH2U 2. Another iWireless company, actually the first company to call itself iWireless as far as I know...a division of Cincinnati Bell... http://www.i-ontheweb.com/ 3. T-Mobile revises minute rounding policies (you still get at least as many minutes as you're paying for with the refill, but maybe not as many extra) http://www.howardforums.com/showthread.php?t=1217413&page=1&pp=15 And, last but not least... 4. Virgin Mobile is going to intro a LOT of new phones! All of which look pretty good...some of which we know about already...but some of which were heretofore unbeknownst and look sweet... http://www.howardforums.com/showthread.php?t=1225773&page=1&pp=15 I'd post more information\commentary\etc. but I'm in a Physics lecture and messed up on yet another quick quiz question...:/...so gotta go... ## Sunday, August 26, 2007 ### Another Company Called iWireless... I was just surfing around HowardForums and found out that another company has taken up the name iWireless. Looks to be a company that is affiliated with Kroeger's...that's where they sell their phones on the street... Anyhow, they actually offer decent plans and a good selection of phones. While I still can't figure out how they're able to get away with calling themselves iWireless and even using the old iWireless logo (CinBell has had an iWireless brand for awhile now) they're pretty neat... Based at www.iwirelesshome.com, they offer two plans: 25 cent weekday minutes and 10 cent nights and weekends starting at 7 or$5 a month for 10 cent minutes all the time. In other words, if you're going to use 34 or more weekday minutes per month the $5 plan is better. Both neither plan is all that bad...considering everyone else's offerings... Text messaging, like the good old days, is 10 cents to send per message and free to receive. Always a good thing. The phone selection is pretty broad. Phones and prices are below...but note that you have to add at least$20 of airtime to the phones to start service. One good thing: airtime expiration is 90 days...

Sanyo Katana - $120 (cheap) LG 225 -$100 (expensive)
LG 150 - $70 (expensive but possibly worth it) Sanyo 2400 -$65 (expensive but probably worth it)
LG 125 - $40 (decently priced) Nokia 2125i -$20 (decently priced)
UTStarCom 7025 - $20 (decently priced) The phone selection has some rather unique phones in it (Sanyo 2400, Nokia 2125i, LG 150) and is not too expensive, and the rate plans (which operate on Sprint's network a la Virgin Mobile and STi) are decent. So if you jsut wanted to talk and text and didn't do a ton of both (thus not justifying a monthly plan from Virgin Mobile) this carrier is better than the big VM...especially since the phones aren't Kyocera junk! But I'm definately keeping my eye on this carrier... ### Locus Just Went Crazy...and more... For whatever reason (maybe because Page Plus Cellular is taking all their Verizon business and Beyond Wireless is taking all their GSM business, and no new customers are signing up) Locus Telecom just wet insane... ...with limited-time-offer (for some brands; others have low rates to stay, looks like) ultra-low per minute rates...see the list below: Locus Platinum (Verizon)$10 - 83 minutes - 30 days (12 cents per minute)
$20 - 222 minutes - 60 days (9 cpm)$30 - 428 minutes - 60 days (7 cpm)
$50 - 833 minutes - 90 days (6 cpm)$100 - 2000 minutes - 120 days (5 cpm)

Looks like they're competing against Page Plus except with better per-minute pricing and shorter expirations...and no monthly fee. So now you can talk 500 minutes per month and pay $25 for it...no contract required. Sick ;) Oh, and these prices are not limited-time like the other pricing below, which extends from 8/1 till 12/31 this year. O2 Wireless (AT&T)$30 - 500 minutes - 6 cents per minute - 30 days
Rewards ups to $44 for 733 minutes - 4.1 cents per minute !?!$50 - 1000 minutes - 5 cents per minute - 30 days
Rewards ups to $78 for 1560 minutes - 3.2 cents per minute !?!?!?!?!?! I had no idea that these guys even bought the minutes as low as this price! Granted, you have to spend$250 on service to get rewards rates, but for an anytime minute plan (if you don't talk much on nights\weekends anyway) this blows even contract plans outta the water! Geesh...only a few $50 calling cards can beat the rewards rate on Oxygen! *shakes head* No, I'm perfectly happy with my Sprint SERO plan...but anyone wanting to try out prepaid...well...this is your opportunity to do it! Locus Mobile GSM (AT&T) I honestly don't know what's going on here, but I think these guys are also offering 5 cent minutes in one form\fashion or another. Insane, I tell you... CallPlus Wireless (AT&T) Looks like these guys have the same "ultra rate" offering as Oxygen, except without rewards and with a 25-cent-per-day fee. Still, 5 or 6 cents a minute is darn good! POP GSM (AT&T) See Oxygen, except without the rewards. Still, it's dang insane! So if you need a phone for four months and want insane rates, grab O2 if you can find it. If you want great rates for a longer period of time, with a lower monthly minimum, you have Locus Platinum. Granted, Page Plus has a lower monthly minimum than Locus Platinum on all but the highest-end Page Plus refill, but if you want incredibly cheap minutes because you're going to use a lot of 'em, Locus Platinum beats Page Plus by about 12% on per-minute cost. Now if only the mainstream carriers would lower their rates... ...and now for the promised tidbits. First off, Page Plus is rebranding soon, I hear. You'll be hearing\seeing more of them in mainstream media, but I also hear that the rates will continue to drop. I don't want to say anymore for fear that I've already said too much... ...and one more thing: check back here tomorrow. I have an announcement about something I've helped work on, related to prepaid...and it's big... ## Saturday, August 25, 2007 ### Just stopped by F.Y.E. And... ...saw that the Motorola c168i GoPhone for a mere twenty-five dollars. Unfortunately, I have no more news of prepaid events to disseminate. ## Saturday, August 18, 2007 ### Net10 & Tracfone News: CG225 and More And my final post to catch up on prepaid happenings... 1. The 30-minute card is gone. Nice idea but I guess Tracfone didn't like the high cost per transaction, which means of course lower profit for them. Why they even had it is another question altogether but ah well... 2. There has been a report at the forum that the LG CG225 may need reprogramming so that you get what you paid for: double minutes for life. As in, it doesn't look to come with it...odd, huh? Just keep this in mind when you get one of these new phones. 3. Net10 now has the LG CG225, just a week or two after it came out on Tracfone! The price for this phone is the same across both providers, yhough the Net10 version comes with 300 bonus minutes (note, not free minutes anymore...more on that in number 5) instead of the double minutes for life found on Tracfone. Overall not a horrible deal considering the Motorola c261 is$80 as well.

4. Net10 has lowered prices on a few of their phones, which is always a nice thing. The Motorola v176 is now $60 and the Motorola c261, as mentioned, is$80. However, if you're in a CellularOne\Dobson (now part of AT&T...almost) user you're stuck with two relatively expensive phones: the Nokia 2600 for $40 or the Motorola v171 for$60. Oh well...pretty soon everyting will be T-Mobile or AT&T based.

5. Looks like Net10 is measuring the bonus airtime a new way. Now on the Nokia 1600, Motorola w370 and LG CG225, you get merely 100-minute bonuses on your first three refills, rather than 300 minutes outright with the phone. I'm supposing that this hasn't spread to other phone models, but I'd not be surprised if it has...:/

And now I'm caught up with prepaid happenings. On to other activities, which may or may not be related to prepaid, depending on how tired I end up being after I get ready for my second night at the dorm...

### Liberty Mobile Intro's Unlimited Plan

Heard of Liberty Mobile? Probably because of the bad review? Well, maybe here's another reason to look at 'em again: they have an unlimited talk\text plan.

Which may well be enough for some people. Just don't use your phone too much, otherwise Liberty Wireless will find the plan too expensive and phase it out. But I hope not.

Liberty Wireless phones, since the plans are hybrid, are pretty inexpensive for prepaid, which is a good thing.

The only downside to LW's unlimited plan is that the $100 it costs (the cost of a typical carrier's 1350 minute postpaid plan, plus unlimited texting so really not a horrible plan cost-wise if you're going to use that many minutes) doesn't include taxes and fees, which include some wierd$4 "system access fee" that is, needless to say, rather underhanded\annoying. Then again, you'e got a plethora (would you say I have...a plethora?) of carriers that have $xx-without-taxes prepaid plans. So all you can do here is shrug and take the plan, or not. Well, one other downside: this is Sprint-network-only. Which puts it in indirect comparison to the coverage-limited Boost Unlimited service that Sprint is rolling out in Texas and California, which costs half as much. But at least there is a network-wide unlimited plan... ...though I have to start a quick rant here: someone who submitted a story to the Prepaid Press (a big news site on all things in the prepaid industry, from phones to long distance card to debit cards) said that prices would undoubtedly get lower on the Liberty Wireless unlimited plan as time went on. To which I say, uh uh. The cost of providing unlimited minutes is going to be high for Liberty Wireless, sorta the same with text messages, ince they're very likely still paying by minute and by text to Sprint. So I really DON'T see the price getting much\any lower...whoever wrote that article is...well...I dunno really... Next up, developments on Net10 and Tracfone. ### Picante Mobile - Something Sweet First off, sorry for my prolonged absence. I am now posting from a dual T3 university connection piped (among other places) to my dorm room at Colorado School of Mines. Things start cooking this afternoon as far as orientations and such go, which leaves me a few hours of somewhat downtime to post and do other such things. I'm sure glad I moved in yesterday :) Anyhow, while doing work for PrepaidWireless (I'm doing a lot of that lately) I found out about Picante Mobile...right when they launched their service, which was about a week ago. They're from the same company as ReadyMobile, Mojo Mobile, MovilListo, etc. except with a different tack on things...one that I actually thought about intro'ing if I had enough money to start an MVNO...you pay X cents a minute for anytime minutes, then buy unlimited night\weekend cards as you need them. Granted, Picante Mobile, available at www.mipicante.com, doesn't have hot rates or anything; 12.5 cents a minute for anytime minutes. But hear me out: Regular refills start at$5 (cool!) and all last 30 days with 12.5 cent minutes. Nice and simple.

The night\weekend cards start out at expensive per day ($5...cool again...for 3 days of unlimited night calling) and as you get more expensive get less expensive per day ($10 gets a week of unlimited nights and weekends, and $20 gets 4 weeks of unlimited nights and weekends). If these nights and weekends start at a reasonable hour (as opposed to ReadyMobile\Mojo Mobile's 10 p.m. nights\weekends) then all is cool. If not then...hmph... There's also...get this...a one-year service extension card for a mere$20. Granted, it doesn't include minutes or anything but still, that makes Picante a nice "glove-box" carrier if Sprint's home network is enough for you in emergency situations.

The nights and weekends had better start at a decent time, and the rates are a little higher than a typical "hybrid" carrier's, and the phone selection is rather limited (Sanyo MVP, LG 5225, Sanyo 4900...okay phone but still rather limited) but I really like the idea behind this carrier's rate structure, hence my posting here.

## Thursday, August 16, 2007

$20 instant rebate -$30 MIR = $29.99. The value pack includes the phone, 10 minute card, hands-free headset,vehicle charger, leather case. Cool deal, thanks Steve! ### Target:$50 for $40 Akmaro1 just dropped the tip that Target is selling all sorts of$50 airtime cards for $40 this week...20% off face value! So with stacking and such (two$50 cards) it'll net you eight cents a minute or better with T-Mobile, or give you a double minute card for $40 with Tracfone, among other things. Sweet! By the way, Wednesday I begin my two-day car journey with family up to Golden, Colorado. Because I gotta be there Friday for some stuff...and Tuesday school starts at Colorado School of Mines. Wish me luck\pray for me etc. :) ## Friday, August 10, 2007 ### Tracfone\Net10 Updates: Net10 w370, Tracfone Codes, v170 I have Chris, the Turk ad The_Sweeper to thank for this: 1. The Motorola w370 is now available on Net10! After rolling out eyes and saying "it's about time!" we see that the phone is$80...not incredibly affordable but hey, it's $50 on Tracfone and comes with$30 worth of airtime so I'll give 'em that.

http://www.net10-store.com/direct/net10/itemdetl.jsp?prod=3546&tech=GSM4&techzip=03101

2. The Turk is keeping very good track of the promotional codes available, and coming up with new ones etc. See the list in its full glory below:

http://z7.invisionfree.com/Go4Prepaid/index.php?showtopic=7

3. The Tracfone Motorola v170 at Wal-Mart.com has broken the $20 barrier. If you're at a loss as to whether to get this at that price or a Motorola c139 for$5 less, the v170 is the right choice. Though the twofer deal still includes the c139...darn it...

http://www.walmart.com/catalog/product.do?product_id=6051652

### Reviews Section, Go4prepaid.info

First off, apologies for everyone who has tried to access this site through go4prepaid.info lately. I'm trying to get that back up.

Second, I'm rethinking the reviews section again. I'll be putting up a new way to access the reviews section relatively soon, probably within a week, but for now just use the Google box to search for "review" without the quotes to find all the phone reviews.

### Tracfone LG CG225 - Available on Tracfone.com!

Well, looks like the Tracfone LG CG225 is officially out...thanks akmaro1 for the tip!

http://www.tracfone-orders.com/bpdirect/tracfone/PhoneDetails.do?action=view&productVariantExtensionId=902815

Interestingly, looks like also that the double minute promotion is preloaded onto the phone. Now you can take that one of two ways: either they're offering a nice deal and giving you a flip cameraphone for $30, the same price as the Moto c261... ...or they may make a habit of doing double minutes included in their more expensive phones. Which makes this phone a ho-hum deal but makes the minutes some of the cheapest in the prepaid industry. Now a$40 refill with the 225...out of the box...gets you 10 cent plus 5 cent per "web minute" picture messaging...so even if you take a decently large picture and it takes forever (3 minutes) to send you're only out 25 cents, the same as you'd pay on another carrier's prepaid plan. Oh, and did I mention that this also means minutes are...at most...16.7 cents apiece anywhere GSM service is available, again out of the box? And you can get 'em down below 10 cents a minute without too much trouble (read: twofer deals and promo codes).

Or maybe I'm being too excited. Maybe they're just trying to keep the "twofer effect" from happening with the LG by preloading the double minute card, which it looks like they're doing, and basically making the phone $30 with a mandatory purchase of a double minute card, which isn't so horrible either considering that the going price for a basic flip cameraphone elsewhere is$40 (INPulse UTStarCom 7075, Virgin Mobile Snapper w\PayPal discount).

Interesting...yummy...fun...

### Whatever happened to Jolt PCS?

I was looking for Jolt PCS information today and noticed that joltpcs.com now led to the Beyond Wireless homepage...which didn't mention Jolt PCS anymore! So I asked arond and found out that xTreme Mobile bought that brand out and is incorporating it into their brand...interesting but I just thought somebody might like to know out there. I mean, the plans were pretty junky and the phones were expensive, but they did offer an unlimited plan for $150, not bad when you can actually get it for$135 from GreenTel...

## Thursday, August 09, 2007

### Paypal + Virgin Mobile = Discount!

It's late here so I will keep this brief. Thanks to haydeno I just got the tip below...

idk if your intrested but if you buy a slice,snapper, or cyclops and use code:PPBTS7 and pay via paypal you get 20% off

...thanks and hope this helps! This puts the Cyclops and Snapper at a mere 48 bucks apiece and the Slice at twenty-four...wow...

## Wednesday, August 08, 2007

### The LG CG225 - It's Out - For Cheap!

Well, Tracfone may not have this phone on its website yet, but thanks to The_Sweeper I found out that it's on Wal-Mart's site...and comes with a double-minute-for-life card while still retaining the $80 price tag! So if you're thinking of getting a double minute card anyway, the CG225 is just as inexpensive as the Motorola c261...$30!

Now whether this flip cameraphone is better than the bar-phone c261 is another matter, but I'll review it sooner or later. But the big deal is now you have a cheap choice of multiple cameraphones on Tracfone, and choice on prepaid is always a good thing.

http://www.walmart.com/catalog/product.do?product_id=6051651

EDIT: Yes, you do have to buy the bundle...the phone isn't $30 alone. ## Tuesday, August 07, 2007 ### Now Introducing: Go4Prepaid + Greentel Wireless May I now present the latest joint venture between Go4Prepaid and someone else: Go4Prepaid + Greentel Wireless! As I mentioned in my previous post about 'em, there you can get everything related to Beyond Wireless (phones, SIMs, refills including stuff for Jolt Mobile and Jolt PCS). Plus you can get activation codes that will turn a dormant T-Mobile SIM into a T-Mobile To Go account, or an AT&T SIM into a GoPhone account. The prices aren't half bad either. Hope you like this new addition to Go4Prepaid! Just click on Go4Prepaid + Greentel on the link bar to access the site! ### Reviews Overhaul Complete! Just to let everyone know, I just finished working "under the hood" to redesign the reviews section of this site. It now just references the Reviews category on posts, which means it's a whole lot quicker\easier for me to keep everything up to date, and easier for you to find a particular phone etc. Hope you like the new design! ## Monday, August 06, 2007 ### AirVoice Update I seriously need to start work on a few projects so I ahve to make this brief, but... I just looked on AirVoice's site and found a few things: 1) The daily fee is incurred only on days you use the phone (to talk or text). Like GoPhone's pay-per-day plan. Which makes the service not so horribly overpriced. 2) "Funny money" is still around, and this time minutes are set at 10 cents apiece. So while on the$10 card you're paying 30 cents for the first minute of each day, on the $100 card you're paying 24 cents and 8 cents per minute after that. Well...actually a bit more than that, more like 25 and 8.33 since you're getting a 20% bonus on airtime instead of a 20% discount (yay math) but it's still a better deal than you'd think. 3) Because of the daily fee (I guess) airtime expiration is now tiered.$10 lasts 90 days as before, but now $20 lasts 120,$30 lasts 150, $50 lasts 180 and$100 lasts a year. Granted, the best cost per month is still on the cheapest refills but when you can get good rates and good expiration on a high-demonination card like is now possible it's just plain nice.

So Airvoice didn't turn quite as evil as first reports said, though it's still not for everybody.

### Site Announcement, GoPhone Update, Shameless Begging #2

First off, I'm going to rework how reviews are posted. Instead of having them as seperate pages with a review index on a static site, they'll now simply be a category on this blog. That's why I'm not putting up the reviews of the Nokia 6030 and the Motorola c168i on the other part of the site. Look for this change in the next day or two...I'm too busy to do it now ;)

Second, GoPhone prices have fluctuated. Here they are:

Nokia 6030 (Refurb) - $10 (!) Sony Ericsson J220a (Refurb) -$10
Motorola c139 - $20 (?) Nokia 2610 (Refurb) -$10 (!!!)
Motorola c168i - $40 (hm...figures) Pantech c120 (Refurb) -$20
Samsung a117 - $60 (new phone!) Nokia 2610 -$50
Pantech c3b - $90 Nokia 6102i -$100
Motorola Razr Black\Silver - $130 (finally!) Now that you've seen the price dros (or in the case of the Motorola, raises), let me make a shameless beg... Thanks to The_Sweeper and Bill In NC for letting me review the Nokia 6030 and the Motorola c168i. I can't get AT&T phones here so that really helps... ...so I'm asking anyone else who has\wants to get one of the following phones... Nokia 2610 Pantech c120 Sony Ericsson J220a ...to loan it to me for maybe a week so I can review it. For this you'll get my sincere thanks for supporting this site...and probably more 'n' that. Again, thanks t everyone for coming here and showing your support for this site...I'm glad to ahve earned it! ### Nokia 6030 I'm on a roll here...here's the other phone review. Thanks to Bill in NC for this phone! first, I was actually able to test the phone, even though it has Cingular branding...because it's easy to unlock. In fact, it arrived to me unlocked. So I stuck my T-Mobile To Go SIM in the phone and went... ...and I'm overall satisfied with this phone. Battery life is fine...I didn't charge it when I got it and it lasted...hmm...eight or nine days and it's still showing a bar of battery left. I'd call that impressive for a phone with a decently-sized color screen and that had a little bit of activity going on during its discharging. Reception-wise the phone also seems fine Again, I'm faced with the dilemna that I now only have one T-Mobile SIM (sold the other some) but the reception does seem to be qite good where I've gone, even inside a big metal building where my Sprint Mogul (good at reception actually) and a friend's Cingular phone (actually the Motorola c168i at that point as I was lending it to her for review) were faltering. On build quality, at first I thought this phone seemed a bit junky, but now it seems much less so. Granted, it's not quite built like a Motorola w370 or suchlike, but it's pretty well-built. Not too incredibly thin either, especially when compared with stuff like the Slice and even the c168i, but it's not too bad thickness-wise and the extra thickness means extra battery life. All in all the phone looks pretty and doesn't disappoint when it comes to how it feels. Feature-wise, this phone is pretty much as full-featured as you can get without having a camera or mp3 player on the phone. As such, it uses Nokia's grid-style menu system, which isn't as fun as their single-icon version but it works. An interesting omission (at least on the Cingular version) is any decent number of ringtones...it was like using a Virgin Mobile phone, as far as how few the choices were. At least the speaker was high-quality, though not earth-shatteringly loud, and at least the phone supports mp3 ringers. Maybe I'm ovelooking something, but the Nokia 6030 also seems to be a pretty solid phone for someone who dosn't need a camera or advanced features like that, and in this case you get a bit more solid platform in exchange for a bit thicker formfactor. And it's unlockable, and available on both T-Mobile and Cingular. Sounds good to me. ### Motorola c168i (AT&T) Well, here's the review of the Motorola c168i...thanks to The_Sweeper for loaning me his phone! First off, since the phone is locked to AT&T\Cingular, I had to have a friend use her contract paln SIM with the phone for awhile. But that was fine...she came to the conclusion (as did I) that the phone was good for the prepaid audience...not a lot of features, but a pretty good phone anyway. Then again, her main phone is the Motorola Rokr... Anyway, as to the things that count, reception seemed okay, though I couldn't really test apples to apples because I didn't have two people's Cingular phones (this one eing one of them) side by side to tell. From what I heard though, voice calls sounded very good on this phone, which is great for such a cheap device. In the build quality arena this phone ain't bad at all. Everything feels solid, though the buttons are a tad small for my tastes. Then again, the phone is pretty thin and small in general, while sporting a decently-sized screen, so I really can't complain about button size. Heck, the phone even looks pretty cool, though the absence of a camera renders this phone decidedly basic. Oh, and it looks to be the first prepaid phone to bear the AT&T logo, which in my opinion i way cool compared with Cingular's jack guy...but all the logo animations in the world won't make me switch carriers :). For battery life, this phone wasn't the shining star that some phones are, but it survived a respectable five and a half days on a full charge with maybe 40 minutes of talking and some usage of other funnctions, including plying through all of the phone's many polyphonic ringers, which I'll talk about in a minute. But as far as battery life goes, this phone, while not too amazing, is no slouch, especially for a thin phone. Getting into the less pivotal features for a phone (in my opinion), this Moto is pretty much like the Motorola w370, except without the external display and with the UI tailored for the smaller, square-format screen. It still is definately Compal\Motorola, but there are some hints of phones like the v180 mixed in, which lends a decent quality to the UI. Though I'm not a fan of the way Motorola does their interface...nobody is. One flaw I noticed, which also affected the w370, is that text messaging is not too easy to do on the phone's keypad, which is rather rigid, especially since the iTAP predictive text can't keep up with you if you're even a moderately fast texter. But maybe you can handle that... Lastly, this phone has a speakerphone, which is nice and loud for ringers and such, but tends to be prety muddy and clips the audio a bit even at lower volumes. Wierd, but at least it's loud, and at least you have a large amount of ringtones to choose from. Well, that's about it. I have no problem with this phone, other than the texting slowness and (for me) lack of features, but there are some people to which these problems don't matter. If these people also use an AT&T\Cingular-based service, whether GoPhone or otherwise (especially otherwise, since those carriers only need voice and text anyway), this phone may well be a great fit for them, and on top of that it looks good! ## Saturday, August 04, 2007 ### New Tracfone Promo Code Well, looks like there's another buy-60-get-60-free promotion with Tracfone: 50722 gets you 60 more minutes if you're adding a 60-or-higher-minute card...except of course for the 1-year or double-minute cards which have better codes available anyway. Oh, and this code expires the 13th or so... ## Friday, August 03, 2007 ### What happened...Tracfone and more... Well, sorry to everyone who was left hanging as to what in the world I've been doing since Sunday-ish...I certainly wasn't putting the "new" in news by posting here. But let me explain. Then of course a aundry list of prepaid happenings...and observations... About my prolonged absence, I was in Vidor, Texas...and as I write am on my way back from there...on a mission trip of sorts. In a nutshell, a large group from my small church worked to rebuild a hurricane-damaged (Rita) house and put on a "Backyard Bible Club" nearby. I was part of the team that did the latter. It was a great trip, though I didn't have much time for internet and was limited to 1x browsing...though it was obvious from the flickering of status icons on my phone that an EvDO launch was imminent... But to the topic of all things prepaid... First off, Tracfone has updated their website. Their phone buying module is now integrated into the design of their main website (for the first time ever) and promotions have been updated a bit along with the facelift. I'd like to apologize for not reporting the short (maybe a day or two) usage of none other than the Nokia 2126 as the CDMA "twofer" phone...a real steal if you as me...but that hot deal unfortunately passed very quickly and we're again left with Nokia 2285s in that area. However Tracfone is now giving phones away with their double minute 1-year cards (going back to when the older double minute card was also pitched with free phones, with the same$139.99 cost), and the phones aren't that hat shabby. For CDMA areas, the free phone is a refurbished LG 3280. For AT&T areas it's the Motorola c261. For other GSM areas it's the Motorla v170. All phones but the LG are sold piecemeal for thirty bucks so it's really not a raw deal if you're wanting that much airtime anyway. This time around the "free" phones are halfway decent, especially when contrasted against the low-end twofer models.

Next on news bits, Verizon has bought Unicel...or rather its parent compsny, following relatively closely on AT&T's acquisition of Dobson CellularOne. Except Verizon is converting Unicel's underlying technology to CDMA so its coverage areas, and subscribers, will be native Verizon property, though thankfully GSM roaming is still gonna be possible, as it's a cash cow for VZW. What this means is that Verizon prepaids, as well as CDMA based providers that roam on Verizon, will get a boost in coverage. Specifically Tracfone and Page Plus, which is cool. Especially since it's a win-win situaton what with GSM service sticking around.

Even though I prefer Sprint to Verizon for substantiated fanboy reasons...go VZW!

Lastly, Amp'd isn't dying totally...it's turning into a zombie, in exactly the style of SunRocket, by being acquired by USA Telecom and being "integrated" (turned into, for all practical purposes for all emaining subscribers) Prexar Mobile. How that name rolls off the tongue I dunno, but their offering I'm sure has the designers of Amp'd rolling in their graves...

First off, a probably unrelated news bit knocks one of the four Amp'd phones out of commission: bugs (?) have led Verizon to decommission all Motorola e816 "Hollywood" phones. PC Magazine loved this phone when it came out and I'm wondering what in the world the problems were that knocked this phone off the network...at least, now that Amp'd is gone. But hmmm...

That leaves basically Slider Remixes, Razrs and a few Q's to convert to Prexar, or even if you were in a contract leave for elsewhere. Prexar's offering is slim: plans that at first glance are like Verizon proper's. Except they might be a little cheaper, they eschew mobile to mobile and night/weelend minutes are earlier (7 p.m.) and limited to 3000 a month. Text messaging is 10 cents per message a la carte, or available in bundles that, when compared with Virgin Mobile's offerings, are downright ripoffs. Mobile to mobile can be had but it's just Prexar to Prexar...in other words it's probably not worth having. Phone choice is...um...bad, with four available phones at retail prices (what you pay if you want a bare non-contract phone on postpaid) unless you sign a contract. And even then the prices are lousy.

To top it all off, the deadline to pick your Prexar plan was a few days ago...I really think there were only a few thousand people who made the switch to a service this featureless compared with the provider that just vanished from under their feet.

One last thing, and now I'm off my Prexar soapbox: Airvoice changed their rates just recently. They're now flat-rate and fee-driven...ten cent minutes plus daily and monthly fees. Twenty cents per day to be exact. I would personally defect to Net10 if you use a fair amount of minutes, or Tracfone if you don't, as the fee structure on the new Airvoice doesn't look good considering the alternatives. Though you can use whatever compatible GSM phone you want on Airvoice...the point is that things have changed rate-wise and you may want to consider looking elsewhere because their focus cost-wise has changed as a result.

Well, that's it for now...reviews for the Nokia 6030 and Motorola c168i coming soon!