Slash prices on Pay-As-You-Go schemes

I find phone rates in US really high and the fact that carriers are trying to lock you in with ugly contracts and on-purpose crippled phones does not make it any better. I wish there was an MNVO that leases airtime off Cingular and had no contracts but instead an easy to understand “pay as you go” system that isn’t featureless. This is what I would like to see:

– You don’t have to refill your credit for up to 1 year.
– Free 1-to-1 (the user can select a single person where all calls are “to” and “from” completely free)
– $0.15 (USD) per minute for voice calls
– $1 per 1 MB for GPRS data transfer (configuration details to be found on web site)
– $0.05 per SMS via GSM (GPRS rates apply for SMS via GPRS)
– Standard GPRS prices for MMS messages (up to 300 KB) (conf details on web site)
– $1.00 per minute for EDGE/UMTS video calls (configuration details on web site)
– $0.10 per PTT per minute (configuration details on web site)
– Standard GPRS prices for IM (Wireless Village server with Jabber backend configured to also support GTalk, Jabber, ICQ, AIM, MSN and Y!) (configuration details on web site)
– $0.35 for Canada voice calls per minute (with no rounding of minutes).
– $0.35 for Mexico voice calls per minute (with no rounding of minutes).
– $1.00 for all other international calls per minute (with no rounding of minutes).
– An additional $25 per month for 2 GBs (supposedly “unlimited”) of GPRS data (either via the handset or laptop).

No free phones are given to customers. Customers are free to choose and buy any GSM unlocked phone. The company can only suggest handsets that appear to be fully compatible with all the extended services offered (e.g. IM or PTT).

You would notice that I don’t give a flat rate for MMS messages but –as they technically should be– the price is dependent to GPRS prices. This will make people be more careful about the sizes of videos and graphics they send out too. A max sized MMS at 300 KBs would cost $0.30 while a small MMS at 30KBs it would cost instead $0.03. You should only pay what you actually used. If the user is also an “unlimited” (2GBs) GPRS transfer subscriber, then all MMS messages would be essentially free.

Honestly, I believe that these prices and services are very easily doable by any carrier, but they are so greedy and they don’t want to deal with “unsupported” phones that they offer really mediocre services. My current plan for example, which is Cingular’s Pay As You Go (I refuse to sign a contract), costs $10 per 1 MBs of data transfer, $1 additional for every day you use the phone, no PTT, no video calls, no IM, expires every 3 months, minute-rounding on international calls makes me pay a lot, and it resizes all my MMSes down to 4 KBs! It sucks.

Just like when Google came along and they changed the face of webmail or search, I pray that a company with guts can deliver such a service.

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Ludovic wrote on November 1st, 2006 at 7:04 AM PST:

The problem would lie in the price of the phones. Today phones are “cheap” because the carrier will make money elsewhere. Other than that the gutted guy would need loads of money, just to install antennas around – if it were to use others then why would they let him do it.

memson wrote on November 1st, 2006 at 10:22 AM PST:

You are on the wrong side of the Atlantic.

I don’t think the UK is an awful lot better, but parts of Europe certainly are.

In the UK we get cheap phones on contract. We get more expensive phones for Pay as you go. We also get places like the Carphone Warehouse that sell unlocked phones and contracts for any of the mobile phone companies (we have about 4 or 5 really big ones here: Vodafone, 3, Orange, T-Mobile, Virgin, O2 and a few smaller ones.)

But, things are changing. Priceplans are getting really competetive. We only bay for the outgoing call. There are priceplans that have cheap data, priceplans that have cheap calls etc. Most importantly, we universally use GSM over here, so we don’t have the issues US people have we poor battery life of the competing system that you use.

If you choose to sign a 12 month contracts, you’re stuck in to the vendor for 12 months, but after that you could change as easily as buying a new pair of shoes.

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