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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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  • Families? (Score:2, Funny)

    by mangu (126918)

    I don't know why, but this "Family" thing in the name of the service makes me think of censorship.

    On-line games will be certified to be non-violent and you will not be allowed to download Heavy Metal music, I suppose.

    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      Are you in the right thread? Wait... lemme guess.. your autopilot saw the words 'Walmart', 'Wireless', and 'Family" and you thought you had a cheap +3 Insightful. Right?

      • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

        by Yvan256 (722131)

        At least that's better than what I read the first time. I saw "Wal-Mart to launch unlimited wireless Family Guy plan".

    • Re:Families? (Score:5, Informative)

      by iammani (1392285) on Monday September 13, 2010 @07:26PM (#33567256)

      I dont want made you associate Family with Censorship. Family refers to purchasing in packs of more than 1. There used be a pepsi family 4-pack. Publix used to have a family pack bread. And all wireless providers offer family plans (none of which currently censor anything)

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Andorin (1624303)

        > 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.

      • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

        by Nerdfest (867930)
        I wonder if you can buy condoms in "family packs"?
    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by KazW (1136177)
      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.
  • 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 MadAhab (40080) <<moc.baha> <ta> <rehsals>> on Monday September 13, 2010 @07:24PM (#33567236) Homepage Journal

    It sounds like a fairly good deal for the US and for more, uh, parsimonious consumers.

    As phone and text, it's great, IOW. And that's where the usage seems to be for lower end consumers.

    Probably not for the average ./er's kind of data consumption, but still a welcome addition to the US mobile market.

    • by timeOday (582209)
      As a family man with potentially 6 phones to pay for, almost any per-phone-per-month fee is out of the question, and unlimited talk time is overkill. So for now, Tracfone is the best bet I have found.

      However, I think Tracfone could be undercut by making two improvements that I think competitors could implement cheaply:

      1) Allow phones to pool pre-paid minutes.
      2) Charge less for texting (I haven't seen anybody dispute that texting fees are pure profit).

      For now, we just get by without all having our ow

      • by dlgeek (1065796)

        2) Charge less for texting (I haven't seen anybody dispute that texting fees are pure profit).

        I'd dispute that. There really are various infrastructure and capacity expenses involved. They're only 99.999999% profit.

    • by hedwards (940851)
      That's in my view to low to really do anything interesting. If you've got wifi at home, I'm sure it's not such an issue, but still you hardly have to be a power user to eat through that.
  • by Pollux (102520) <speter.tedata@net@eg> 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.

    • why can't any of the big-name mobile carriers come out with a no-nonsense plan with affordable rates like this one?

      Doesn't Boost Mobile have a $50/month unlimited talk/text/web? They're a subsidiary of Sprint.

    • by kamapuaa (555446)
      There's plenty of options...Metro PCS being one of them. Or just paying a few dollars more on your monthly fee for unlimited...or not using the phone for 2+ hours/day during work hours, in which case even the cheapest contracts will be more than enough to cover you...
    • After factoring in all of the taxes added to your monthly phone bill, your $45 plan usually looks more like $62 out of your pocket a month. It sounds like with this plan, $45 really means $45.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by log0n (18224)

      ...

      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.

    • by evilviper (135110)

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

      Not really... Walmart has always sold crap products, for $2.13 less than halfway decent products... Is this any different?

      Well, Boost Mobile's unlimited talk/text/data plan is $50/mo., so $45 isn't saving much. MetroPCS is cheaper, but they're coverage outside major cities is horrid (and not great inside cities, either). Other plans are getting down there, too.

  • 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 pspahn (1175617)

      I think it's too late. It's already a race to the top of the corporate food chain.

      Any corporate entity with enough money will start to diversify into other areas, that's a given. What is happening, though, is that these giants get bigger and more diverse. Imagine what we might see in 50 years. No wonder LUH and THX stopped taking sedation.

      • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

        by pandrijeczko (588093)

        Look at the bigger picture & it is very disturbing... the destruction of local businesses, extinction of local varieties of fruit & vegetables.

        Plus here in the UK, our corrupt local authorities taking (in effect) backhand bribes when it comes to granting building permissions for hypermarkets. Not to mention the fact that they levied parking charges in town centres where local businesses used to thrive but nobody did anything about taxing the hypermarkets with their acres of free parking for customer

        • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

          by jd678 (577145)

          Sorry... Germany has hypermarkets and France doesn't? Carrefour pioneered the hypermarket concept in Europe, decades before they appeared elsewhere in other European countries.

          The obesity difference between the two is more to do with one countries preference for potatoes and beer, and the other's for salad and wine.

    • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

      by Anonymous Coward

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

      When we get paid enough that the more expensive options are actually viable?

    • by brunes69 (86786) <slashdot AT keirstead DOT 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...

    • by DwySteve (521303) <sfriederichs@@@gmail...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.

      • 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.

        "Cheap" is not the same as "good". It's a circular situation because a local producer to you has to pay the same prices as you and has to offer a competitive wage with

        • 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 Digicrat (973598)

      Probably at the same time that companies acknowledge that its OK if they make the same (inflation-adjusted) amount of sales as the year before and constant growth is not a necessity.

      In other news, Walmart contemplates changing their name to Buy N' Large [wikia.com].

    • 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.

      • Are you really shocked that a retail store is expanding their inventory?

        You didn't mean to say that - what you meant to say was "moving into new markets".

        Expansion of inventory implies more choice in a product category but my experience is there is less choice - how many varieties of apples does your local hypermarket stock, for example? And how many of those varieties are native to your part of the world?

        Moving into new markets implies saturation in the markets you are in and having to expand to keep the s

      • by sremick (91371) on Tuesday September 14, 2010 @10:17AM (#33573518)

        WalMart's been growing since they were called "Walton's Five and Dime" simply because they didn't gouge consumers.

        I love how when suddenly a company starts offering a product for less than what people were contently paying for it before, all of a sudden all the places offering it at the old price were "gouging consumers".

        Is it so hard to fathom that to produce certain things properly actually has a cost? And if someone else comes around selling for less than that, that maybe they're the "bad guys"? Either by virtue of selling below cost, or doing unethical/immoral things to get the price lower.

        Like a previous poster said: consumers prioritize price above all else. Apparently so... including common sense.

        When local milk farmers, who I assure you are honest hard-working people who are not price-gouging, can't even break-even, something's horribly wrong.

    • by Jhon (241832)

      These companies will not be satisfied until you use them for everything you need, right from birth to death

      But... but... It's got what plants crave! It's got electrolytes!

    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward

      Wal-mart employee here. I want to know more about these minimum wages. I'm not making them. I'm not management either.

      I won't say how much I make but I can say I have no trouble affording a 2,300 sq. ft. house, every modern videogame console, all the videogames I want, and building a new PC every other year. Would I like to make more? Sure, everyone does. But it seems to me like I'm paid a bit better than what people assume given the comments I see.

  • by Andorin (1624303) on Monday September 13, 2010 @07:39PM (#33567370)

    Is there a catch to Walmart's offerings? You bet. The available data plans are blindingly expensive, locking out much of the lucrative and quickly growing smartphone market. A single gigabyte of prepaid data through Walmart costs $40, which is quite steep compared to AT&T's 2GB for $25 per month, or T-Mobile's $30 per month for unlimited data.

    So says Ars Technica [arstechnica.com], anyway. I don't know much about the market for mobile Internet, but $40 per gigabyte sounds unbelievable. I'm just passing on what I've read.

    • To someone like you and I, but to the casual smartphone users who use 100-200 megs a month its a steal. That's the audience they are targeting, and the carriers should be very afraid because that's where their margins on their data plans come from. Its going to hurt us regardless.

      • by dlevitan (132062)

        "You and I" must be a very selective group. I use my Droid a lot, but in the last 10 months of owning it, I've gone over 500 MB/month once, and hit 400 MB/month 2 months. The rest of the time I haven't gone over 300 MB, and mostly at the 200 MB level. Why?

        A good chunk of the time my droid is using wifi (at home). I used to be able to do it at my office as well, but then froyo broke WPA/Enterprise compatibility with cisco access points (well, actually wpa_supplicant broke, but froyo has an older version with

      • by dgatwood (11270)

        Some hard numbers:

        • Opening Google Maps and zooming out to show the South Bay to check traffic took about half a meg, and that's with some data presumably cached from previous use. Getting a route from work to my house (a 15 minute drive with only 10 steps) took another 1.2 megs or so.
        • Launching the Facebook app, letting it load my live feed, scrolling to the bottom (loading all the profile pics on the left side), clicking read more, and scrolling to the bottom again soaked up a third of a meg.

        So in the

        • Some people just use their data plan to check weather & e-mail on the go (like my mother). I gobble up tons of data, streaming Sirius at work for 8 hours a day.

    • 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 vux984 (928602) on Monday September 13, 2010 @07:54PM (#33567534)

      So says Ars Technica, anyway. I don't know much about the market for mobile Internet, but $40 per gigabyte sounds unbelievable. I'm just passing on what I've read.

      Really "unbeleivable"? I've had an iphone for about a year now. According to its usage statistics I've used:

      13,140 minutes
            475 MB of data
            426 MB of tethered data

      1GB for $40 will apparently cover me for a year at a time. Instead I pay some $20bucks a month or something for the data plan.

      I'm not a video on my phone junkie, and I don't get my email on my phone either. (I get too damn much of it, and really important stuff... I'll get a phone call anyway.)

      • by dgatwood (11270)

        You must be using a Wi-Fi network most of the time. Try turning Wi-Fi off for a month and watch what happens to those numbers.

        • by vux984 (928602)

          You must be using a Wi-Fi network most of the time. Try turning Wi-Fi off for a month and watch what happens to those numbers.

          Per my follow up in a different sub-thread, wifi is actually off to save battery. (I burn through it on voice. Mostly for work.)

          I think if I enabled email data usage would skyrocket though, especially if the iphone downloads attachments automatically(?). But quite simply, regular map usage and some web browsing, and a bit of 'misc' just doesn't use a lot of data.

          But despite my low MB

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by CycleMan (638982)
      $40/GB is a lot cheaper than the $1200/MB Verizon charges for text messages.
    • by Dynedain (141758)

      Let's run the numbers...
      My wife and I have two iPhones on an AT&T family plan with unlimited data at $30/mo. Assuming we had the newer $25/mo 2GB plan it breaks down as such:

      AT&T: $90/mo (for fairly limited minutes + 200 texts) + $25/ea/mo for data + taxes and fees = $160
      Walmart: $45/mo + $25/mo second line + $80/mo (hypothetical max rate for 2GB) = $160

      So we can get unlimited voice and text messaging for the same price we're now paying if we also had really high data usage. Consider that AT&T

  • 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.
  • lol (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Charliemopps (1157495) on Monday September 13, 2010 @09:19PM (#33568120)
    Everyone jump on the walmart hating bandwagon why don't you. I have an Aunt that worked at walmart as a checker for most of her life. She was a single mom and that job bought her a house and helped her raise 5 children (father was a deadbeat) then Walmart paid, in full, the entire college tuition of her eldest daughter through a program walmart has. If you don't want to buy Chinese made crap, then don't Walmarts selling what people want to buy. This cellular plan is a fine example of exactly what they do. We all know cellular plans are ridiculously over priced... look at any other country in the world and it's obvious. Walmart comes in and not only undercuts everyone else, they undercut them to the point it makes the other carriers look like idiots. And just like every other market they enter, this doesnt just mean walmart shoppers get lower prices, it means all the other carriers will have to drop their prices as well to prevent their customers from leaving in droves.
  • 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.
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by SeaFox (739806)

      Am I the only one that see this?

      No, but you're the only idiot who seems to be equating "line" with a physical telephone wire, where everyone else knows that "line" in this case refers to a Line of Service: an active phone number that can be used to make/receive calls and texts.

      So in a "family plan" type scenario the bill would be $120/mo -- one primary phone on the account and three additional phones ($45+$25+$25+$25) and all four members would be able to talk to each other or anyone else nationwide and te

  • 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.

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