While iPhone users did have access to the prepaid service before, no data service was available, which rendered most of the phone’s functions useless. A package with unlimited calling and 1 gigabyte of data is available for $65 a month. Plans costing $25 and $50 a month require an add-on fee for data usage.
There has been a push for the iPhone from other prepaid wireless carriers as well. Virgin Mobile offered a discount of 15 percent on the iPhone 4 and 4S through its website earlier this month. The discount brought the price of the iPhone 4 down to $297 and the 4S to $382 without having to sign a contract. It’s also rumored that Boost Mobile, which is owned by Sprint Nextel Corp. (NYSE:S), will start offering iPhones by the end of the year.
Last year Cricket Wireless, subsidiary of Leap Wireless (NASDAQ:LEAP), became the first prepaid wireless carrier to offer the iPhone. Cricket’s no-contract unlimited data plan costs $55 a month. The small prepaid wireless company has launched an aggressive ad campaign targeting AT&T and Verizon Wireless (NYSE:VZ) customers, insinuating that the mobile giants are simply charging too much for wireless service. The expansive campaign, entitled “Half is More,” will include Facebook (NASDAQ:FB), Twitter (#WhatsYourMore), cinema ads, and television commercials that will begin airing June 3.
One advantage mobile giants AT&T and Verizon have over Cricket is their bigger, faster network capabilities. Customers who use an iPhone through the GoPhone service will have access to AT&T’s LTE and HSPA+ data network.
AT&T’s addition of the iPhone to its GoPhone prepaid service may be a response to pressure from Cricket’s “Half is More” campaign. As more iPhone service options become available cheaper, prepaid options may gain popularity.
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