Walmart to Offer $45 Unlimited Cellphone Plan, Worthless Phones

By Dan Hope Oct 14th, 2009
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We really shouldn’t be surprised by this; after all, Walmart likes to get into everything. And while I’d scoff at the idea of Walmart running a cell phone network, I’m too busy ogling the plan prices to remember to scoff. Walmart has announced they will begin offering nationwide wireless plans, without a contract, starting at $30 per month. Want an unlimited plan? Oh, that will only be $15 more, thanks.

Even now, hearing the words Walmart and phone plan together makes me want to chuckle, but just look at it. It’s beautiful. You don’t have to sign any contract, which means you can leave at any time. And then getting unlimited minutes AND unlimited texts AND (AND!!!) unlimited data for just $45 per month is just too attractive.

If you can’t seem to afford $45 a month (which seems silly considering I can’t think of a contract plan from any provider these days that’s less than $40), there is a plan for $30 a month that includes 1000 minutes, 1000 texts and 30MB of data each month. Quite reasonable for that price tag. Nielsen Mobile Bill Panel Data says that the average American spends $78 for 1000 minutes a month.
Seems like there’s no downside to this offer, right? Well, there’s always a downside. In this case, it will be that you won’t be using much of that unlimited data clause in your plan because all the phones are junk. Seriously, a few piddly flip phones are all you can choose from. The most functionality you might see is email in one or two phones, so don’t think you’ll be surfing the mobile web all day with Walmart phones.

The Walmart plan, called StraightTalk, has been in beta for a while, and apparently Walmart executives think it’s profitable enough to take the whole thing public. According to the press release, vice president of Media Services, Greg Hall, says, “It has been very encouraging to see the excitement and response to the Straight Talk pilot in 234 stores that began last summer at Walmart. In light of the savings customers continue to need, we have worked very quickly to extend this offering to all of our Walmart customers nationwide, and just before the holidays.”

And you know all that holiday traffic isn’t going to be able to resist these plan prices, as long as they can handle having horrible phones to choose from. I myself am tempted, though I’ll be spending some significant time seeing if I can jailbreak a better phone to work with the Walmart plan first.

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