America’s 4 largest operators (AT&T, Sprint, T-Mobile, and Verizon) have a tight grip on the market because they offer subsidized devices, meaning instead of paying $650 for your new iPhone, you sign a 2 year contract and get it for just $200. Enter Simple Mobile, a mobile virtual network operator (MVNO for short) that piggybacks on T-Mobile’s network and offers customers nothing more than a SIM card. If you want to use their service, it’s assumed you already have an unlocked device. Launched in November 2009, many people aren’t aware they even exist, which is a shame since they offer one of the best deals in town. For $50 per month you get unlimited talk, text, and data, but you’re limited to just 2G (read: EDGE) speeds. This isn’t a problem for most people since chances are the device they’ll be using Simple Mobile with doesn’t support T-Mobile’s funky 4G bands. If you do want high speed internet access, then it’s an additional $10 per month, which isn’t really a lot in the grander scheme of things.
So how well is Simple Mobile doing less than 2 years after launching? As of last month they now have over 1.5 million users. “What we heard from our customers is that they’d rather have unlimited Web at slower speeds instead of being capped at 100 MB of data. We’re happy to give it to them. Before we made any long-term decision about the $50 unlimited plan, we wanted to see the full reaction in the marketplace, and so far it has been very positive, so we see it as part of the mix for awhile. The industry thought we were crazy not to sell phones, but I think we’ve proven that it works.” — Tim Garrett, Simple Mobile Senior Vice President of Marketing.
Note: There’s even a $40 unlimited talk and text plan if you’re the type who doesn’t want internet access!