I stumbled upon a new set of boxes in the pay-as-you-go aisle of Target this evening. The new provider on the block is Net10. From the way I’m reading the brocure, it looks like they’re a subsidiary of TracFone rather than an MVNO on top of TracFone’s network. Their schtick is simple: nationwide calling costs 10 cents. They also reward the purchase of larger refill cards by making the minutes last longer. For example, a $30, 300 minute card lasts 30 days, while a $180, 1800 minute card lasts 6 months. They also charge 5 cents a pop for text messages, which is less than what most carriers charge their montly invoiced customers.
The phone selection isn’t spectacular, but they get the job done. Available phones include the Nokia 1100 (which honestly I think is pretty cute), Nokia 2600, the funky Motorola C155, and the Motorola V171. The phones are relatively cheap without the frills that you might get on GoPhone or Boost Mobile, but the service is obviously aimed at cost-concious consumers who value a bargain over bling.
TracFone has done a smart thing by targeting a niche that has gone largely untapped. They need to keep on their toes though, bargain hunters don’t have much brand loyalty and the space could get very crowded very quickly.