Walmart is launching a new MVNO (mobile virtual network operator) called “Common Cents Mobile” that leverages Sprint’s infrastructure. It’s going to launch in over 700 stores on the 15th of May, and will provide customers with 7 cents per minute calls, and text messages at 7 cents each. What’s unique here is how they’re going to count minutes. Say you make a 15 second phone call, you know the type, the “hey, where are you … oh there you are!” kind that all operators, including Common Cents Mobile, will count as 1 minute. Now say you make a 1 minute 50 second phone call. Short, but enough to help you find your friend’s house as you’re trying to navigate the intensely complicated neighborhood he lives in. All operators score that as 2 minutes, but not “Common Cents Mobile”. They round down to the lowest minute. You’ll only be billed 7 cents.
That’s kick-ass for budget minded consumers.
Three devices will be available at launch: LG101 for $19.77, Samsung M340 for $39.77, and the Kyocera S2300 for $69.77. The last two devices include Opera Mini. To top up your account you can buy a $20 refill card that will expire in 30 days and give you up to 565 minutes of talk time, or a $30 refill card that will expire after 60 days and give you up to 848 minutes of talk. Unlimited SMS can be added for $20/month, and data is $1/MB.
It’s your typical prepaid operator, with a unique selling point, but they catch you in the end by having credit that expires. It’s not pay as you go, as much as it is pay per month without a credit check. If you really want pay as you go then you should consider either T-Mobile, or Boost Mobile. Their minutes and texts are a little more expensive, but if your account has $20 of credit then those $20 will never expire. Plus T-Mobile lets you use an unlocked GSM device of your choice, and Boost Mobile has much better devices, including the BlackBerry Curve.