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Cellphones Communications Wireless Networking

Wal-Mart To Launch Unlimited Wireless Family Plan 278

Posted by Soulskill
from the pick-up-some-trash-bags-and-some-internets-on-the-way-home dept.
adeelarshad82 writes "Wal-Mart has announced that it will sell a post-paid wireless service powered by T-Mobile, which will be targeted at families. Users who sign up for Wal-Mart Family Mobile service will not have to sign a contract. The first line will cost $45 per month, and each additional line will cost $25 per month. Each line will have unlimited talk and text, so overage charges will not be an issue. For data access, each phone will come pre-loaded with a 100MB card known as a WebPak, which is shared among all lines on an account. Data does not expire, and refill cards can be purchased in Wal-Mart stores or online. The WebPak can also be used to make international calls at 5 cents per minute to any landline number in about a dozen countries."
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Wal-Mart To Launch Unlimited Wireless Family Plan

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  • by sethstorm (512897) on Monday September 13, 2010 @07:22PM (#33567220) Homepage

    For the many of us who don't want to pay for their legal and PR team(or fund a China-backed company), is there a way to go to a more direct source (e.g. T-Mobile?)?

  • by Pollux (102520) <speter@teda[ ]net.eg ['ta.' in gap]> on Monday September 13, 2010 @07:25PM (#33567246) Journal

    ...Is that the company I despise the most in this country is the one that came up with the smartest mobile phone plan.

    Really, why can't any of the big-name mobile carriers come out with a no-nonsense plan with affordable rates like this one? We've been screaming for years for mobile plans w/o contracts, w/o hidden fees, w/o metered rates, and w/o surprises that come with the end-of-the-month bill. Why did it take Walmart to figure out what the consumer wanted? Hell, if T-Mobile could just sell this exact plan sans Walmart, I'd jump on it in half-a-heartbeat.

  • Stop Sleepwalking! (Score:4, Insightful)

    by pandrijeczko (588093) on Monday September 13, 2010 @07:26PM (#33567258)

    Why do people have so much difficulty in looking beyond the pounds/dollars/euros that they're saving in order to see what these huge retailers are trying to do?

    In the UK, our biggest supermarket is Tesco with Asda (owned by Wal-Mart) in second place. Now that these companies have trashed any form of local retailer, they have to expand into new areas to swell their profits; this is why they now offer mobile phones, home insurance, pharmaceuticals and even home mortgages in some instances.

    When is the populace going to wake up & realise that cheap is not necessarily best? These companies will not be satisfied until you use them for everything you need, right from birth to death - yet they also pay minimum wages & have dubious practices when it comes to employee rights.

    Wake up, people!

  • by pandrijeczko (588093) on Monday September 13, 2010 @07:29PM (#33567288)

    Why did it take Walmart to figure out what the consumer wanted?

    It's nothing to do with what the consumer wants. It's using your considerable financial power to undercut the prices of everyone else until they disappear from the marketplace & leave you a monopoly with the ability to charge you want.

  • by Local ID10T (790134) <ID10T.L.USER@gmail.com> on Monday September 13, 2010 @07:30PM (#33567298) Homepage

    Its a better deal than what I get from Verizon.

    I wonder what the coverage is like, also if the phones will be any good.

  • Re:Families? (Score:2, Insightful)

    by KazW (1136177) on Monday September 13, 2010 @07:30PM (#33567302)
    Right, it wouldn't be because "Family" is synonymous with "group"? I have a family plan with a wireless provider, and guess what? It's for a group of phones.

    What would be more interesting is if they are offering parental controls to the account holder.
  • by MadAhab (40080) <slasher@@@ahab...com> on Monday September 13, 2010 @07:40PM (#33567384) Homepage Journal

    If it's enough for the target market, this will be a big success. If not, it will be teh suck.

    i'm neither for or against it either way. mobile access in the USA is very oligarchic - few companies who offer the same things. so this is different, and so good.

  • by DerekLyons (302214) <fairwater&gmail,com> on Monday September 13, 2010 @07:46PM (#33567440) Homepage

    It's not just about power - it's also about selling the cards in [Wal-Mart's] brick-and-mortar and online stores gets your eyeballs on their other offerings.

  • by brunes69 (86786) <slashdot@nOsPAm.keirstead.org> on Monday September 13, 2010 @07:52PM (#33567512) Homepage

    Yeah screw Walmart... I am sticking with the little guy for my wireless service!

    So I guess thats... AT&T??? Er no wait... must be Verizon. Wait...

  • Re:Families? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Andorin (1624303) on Monday September 13, 2010 @07:53PM (#33567524)

    > I dont want made you associate Family with Censorship.
    It's not the GP's fault. Just think of the wide usage of the term "family-friendly" to mean "hostile to anything that could potentially offend someone."

    I don't see why he got modded Troll.

  • by Thng (457255) on Monday September 13, 2010 @07:53PM (#33567526)
    Not a mobile data user, but IIRC, the average data use per month on smartphones is in the neighborhood of 200-300 megs a month, say average 250/moth. so I can either buy a $40 gigabyte that lasts four months, or I can buy 4 gigabytes of which I only use the one for $100 total (AT&T). Which gigabyte is unbelievable?
    This "cost per gigabyte" isn't neccessarily a fair comparison.

    Bottom line, maybe this plan isn't for you.

  • by L3370 (1421413) on Monday September 13, 2010 @07:59PM (#33567560)
    I'm having a difficult time hating wal-mart on this issue.

    On one hand we have Walmart--a company known for undercutting their competitors and forcing everyone in their supply chain to work for peanuts...On the other we have a small collection of telecom giants forcing the U.S. market to pay inflated prices because of the lack of real competition.
    Sometimes walmart puts up a necessary fight. Imagine what the music industry would be charging for a Ke$ha album if it wasn't for walmart's influence. Yeah $10-15 is still overpaying, but if the music industry had their way this garbage would probably be selling for $20-25USD today.

    Yes walmart has a nasty track record of unfair competitive practices. But in this instance I think walmart has correctly identified a discrepancy in market pricing, and is now using its dominant position to profit and steer the industry in a more healthy direction
  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday September 13, 2010 @08:03PM (#33567592)

    Ok, I'll take the bait...

    A lot of people don't like Walmart for a lot of different reasons. Small business owners (and former small business owners) often dislike WM for making competition difficult, especially in rural areas. Manufacturers may dislike WM because of the constant pressure to lower prices as far as possible, which often results in SKUs specific to WM that use inferior parts, or companies which choose not to do business with them because their product quality would decline unacceptably. Humanitarians dislike WM because of the well-publicized abhorrent treatment of employees, such as locking them in the store overnight and paying lower wages/offering fewer benefits than the industry standard in areas where little other work is available.

    All in all, the one thing WM does well, to the exclusion of nearly all other goals, is make consumer goods as cheap as possible, putting the most products within the reach of the most people possible. In other words, use of the term "classist" to describe their opponents is pure bullshit. Anti-consumerist, sure; anti-corporate, maybe, but you'll find that you make more sense if you choose words that actually have some bearing on the point you're trying to make.

    As to hipsters, just because a large percentage of self-important assholes believe something doesn't make it wrong. Conversely, just because you and I share a dislike of pretentious douches doesn't make you right.

    Sorry for the rant, but seeing this shit modded up as insightful is a little too much.

  • by metalmaster (1005171) on Monday September 13, 2010 @08:04PM (#33567600)
    There is a market for people who dont use smartphones. Some people will never have a need to use the web/online apps from their phone

    I worked for metroPCS for a year. I would never use their service, but they really hit home with the $35 all you can eat talk and text. For the budget conscious person or "phones are meant for talking" crowd, this plan is great. Along came Cricket(metro was in my area first though i believe cricket existed first) to offer the same thing. People ate it up. These two companies had piss poor service outside large cities and suburbs, but they offered the people something reasonable. If you dont travel its great. Fast forward and now Boost Mobile offers a truly flat rate for talk, text and 2way. Today we see Walmart and Tmobile team up. This is the best offer yet for the budget crowd because i think Tmo offers the best coverage for their prepaid maps.

    Will they offer the latest and greatest phones? No. They dont have to. Their target audience probably wouldnt have much use for even the most basic feature phones(maybe qwerty, camera, and bluetooth) Another reason is to keep costs down. Without a contract, the company cannot subsidize the phone purchase. Average Joe isnt going to buy a $500 phone if all it does is talk and text. he might buy that $100 phone that lets him shoot pictures and connect a handsfree headset or wired earpiece though. Afterall, those might be useful.

    The bottom line here is that there will always be a market where the dumbphone remains relevant.
  • by DwySteve (521303) <sfriederichs AT gmail DOT com> on Monday September 13, 2010 @08:08PM (#33567622) Homepage

    Now that these companies have trashed any form of local retailer, they have to expand into new areas to swell their profits; this is why they now offer mobile phones, home insurance, pharmaceuticals and even home mortgages in some instances.

    When is the populace going to wake up & realise that cheap is not necessarily best? >

    I come at this from a different angle. I grew up in a town that was 20 minutes from a city. There were towns farther out that were an hour or two from anything worthwhile.

    Living in these places SUCKS!

    Everyone keeps going on about 'mom and pop' and 'buy local' but the experience I've had with local businesses in places like these is that they get away with charging obscene prices because they're the only game in town. Milk - costs more at the local mom and pop store because you have to drive 20 minutes in any direction to find a competitor. Gas? Same deal. And the selection is awful. You get whatever they give you and nothing more. People would drive an hour to get to a real store - a Walmart or a Target or a Best Buy - and stock up for a week or weeks at a time. Driving an hour to get a better price on gas when filling up your 100 gallon tank was justified.

    So Walmart comes around and wants to build a store in your podunk town and suddenly hippes and 'progressives' from the city are telling you to oppose it because it 'destroys local business'. What? Mom and pop were trying to destroy us slowly with high prices and terrible selection for years, and now someone wants us to help them out because Walmart comes in and charges us a reasonable price for something? AND has a better selection? No thank you.

    You know what else you get with a Walmart? It's a little slice of civilization compared to what you can find out there. That odd DVD rental machine in the front? A Godsend to someone who has no video rental store. And the faux bank where you can cash checks, send money, and have your taxes done in season? Compared to what was on offer before there was Walmart it's amazing. You go to a Wal-Mart in Chicago, Los Angeles, or Walcott Iowa and it's always the same - same selection, same prices, no favoritism, no prejudice no bullshit. They just sell you things.

    So now they do cell phones too? If you live in a city, yeah, it's superfluous. If you live in the middle of nowhere it's another Godsend (as long as your nowhere has T-Mobile anyway). To have a place that will sell you something for a fair price and give you a decent selection of phones? Listen, you all may take it for granted, but plenty of people don't live in Chicago or New York or Los Angeles. They have significantly fewer options and Wal-Mart is on the whole a positive for them.

  • by Shakrai (717556) * on Monday September 13, 2010 @08:17PM (#33567692) Journal

    But have you not noticed how you can only buy the most popular-selling books, magazines, music, DVDs, etc. in the superstores?

    Well, duh. The superstores are general stores. They don't have the shelf space to stock every conceivable title or product. That's why you go to a real book/clothing/electronics/whatever store.

    they stock the high profit, high volume sales items with a strategy to force consumers to just buy those items they stock.

    You aren't forced to do anything as a consumer unless you are too lazy to look for alternatives. Heck, this is the information age -- you can be lazy and shop at the same time if you have a computer, internet connection and credit card.....

  • by Z34107 (925136) on Monday September 13, 2010 @08:19PM (#33567716)

    WalMart exists because ShopKo, Target, Kohl's, J.C. Penny's, Sears Roebuck, Toys "R" Us, etc. had ridiculous markups. These were all large companies leveraging their size to extract higher margins than they'd in anything resembling a competitive market. WalMart's been growing since they were called "Walton's Five and Dime" simply because they didn't gouge consumers.

    Are you really shocked that a retail store is expanding their inventory? Is it a crime to stock more than five different kinds of potato chips or something? Are you surprised that a greeter gets paid minimum wage? What makes a WalMart cashier better than a cashier anywhere else? Or better than a fry chef? Or better than a stock boy? Any place I worked up through graduation paid minimum wage, and working most anywhere beats working in food service.

    So why all the outrage? Anyone else forcing all their competitors to compete would be a hero. I hope they start their own music label while they're at it. Maybe in their spare time they can write an operating system.

  • by bnenning (58349) on Monday September 13, 2010 @09:11PM (#33568074)

    And that system used to work because people used to spend a higher proportion of their incomes than they do now.

    Well yes, and apparently most customers didn't think spending so much of their income on food was as wonderful as you do. It's very unlikely that grocery stores are involved in a huge conspiracy to force everyone to eat worse food. They'd probably much prefer to sell higher-quality higher-margin products because they'd earn more profits; Whole Foods does exactly that. But amazingly it turns out that different people have different price/quality tradeoffs, and I don't see how any of them are objectively wrong.

    And what will they stock up on? Processed foods that have long shelf lives

    And they shouldn't have that choice?

    You're missing the point because you do not accept that foodstuffs are *TOO* cheap, that's the problem.

    Right. And I'm sure that if the stores raised their prices to the "proper" level, you would not at all be complaining about price gouging and how the poor can't afford to feed themselves.

    Go and ask the poor sap on the DVD counter to recommend you a good family movie for the evening.

    And I take it Netflix is the devil incarnate.

  • by quenda (644621) on Monday September 13, 2010 @09:19PM (#33568118)

    (or fund a China-backed company),

    Get over it. You live in a China-backed country. Who do you think is buying all those worthless 30-year T-bonds? China is, so Americans can keep going to WalMart and keep the Chinese factories in business.

  • by log0n (18224) on Monday September 13, 2010 @09:24PM (#33568158)

    ...

    Because Walmart has always known what the [American] consumer wanted. If it didn't, it wouldn't be the force that it is.

    People want cheaper cost with minimum fuss. That's what Walmart does.. cheap, minimum fuss. For most consumers, everything else is almost always a secondary consideration to price. We put up with the dingy environment, we put up with the slackjawed nametags roaming the store because it ultimately keeps more $$ in our pocket.

  • Wireless, Line? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Hylandr (813770) on Monday September 13, 2010 @09:43PM (#33568250) Homepage
    will sell a post-paid wireless service . . . The first line will cost

    Am I the only one that see this?

    - Dan.
  • by wealthychef (584778) on Monday September 13, 2010 @11:44PM (#33569164)
    Walmart is going to be very good for the phone industry. Walmart is very good at delivering CHEAP. Now the assholes that run AT&T and Verizon etc might have to compete on actual service instead of relying on monopoly.
  • by falconwolf (725481) <falconsoaring_2000@@@yahoo...com> on Tuesday September 14, 2010 @12:46AM (#33569622)

    I've not personally observed Wal-Mart raising their prices after driving the competition away

    Just wait until they actually drive away their competition. They're general retail; wait until there's no other retailers.

    Then when prices are jacked up, there's an opportunity for competition driving prices down again. I don't know of a place that has a Walmart but not a Target, a Sam's Club but not a Costco. There's Aldi [aldifoods.com] and Amazon [amazon.com] too. Last week I bought an item from a local store but after seeing Amazon selling it a lot cheaper, with "free shipping", I returned it.

    Falcon

  • Re:Families? (Score:2, Insightful)

    by SuricouRaven (1897204) on Tuesday September 14, 2010 @03:32AM (#33570498)
    'Family' has now become a political codeword to mean 'Social conservative.' Look at Focus on the Family, the Family Research Council, various state Family Policy Councils, etc. It's a convenient shorthand that allows for describing the organisations political views with a fair level of accuracy in a single word, but at the expense of tainting the word in other uses.
  • by Z34107 (925136) on Tuesday September 14, 2010 @03:35AM (#33570516)

    I need to get a grip on the bigger picture? None of the things you say are in any way, shape, or form, bad. Except perhaps for anyone who was hoping to retire a millionaire stocking shelves.

    You say four supermarket chains control 80% of grocery sales - so what? There are definite economies of sale in selling groceries. I'd worry about one abusing monopoly powers, but you say they've been viciously cutting prices. That's how it's supposed to work. The opposite situation is one Standard Oil of grocerydom.

    I'm sorry that WalMart doesn't have a butcher. Maybe they'll expand into meatpacking. In the meantime, I guess you'll just have to go to a butcher's, like you always have. In the meantime, I don't need someone with "years of experience" to help me pick out potato chips.

    they bully suppliers into lower and lower prices, that damages their efficiencies and business.

    I think you need to look up the definition of "efficiency."

What is wanted is not the will to believe, but the will to find out, which is the exact opposite. -- Bertrand Russell, "Skeptical Essays", 1928

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