As if Americans needed more wireless pricing plans to scratch their head over….
Sprint (NYSE: S) is moving full-speed ahead into the prepaid wireless market, expanding from its Boost and Virgin Mobile (NYSE: VM) brands into a multi-pronged brand strategy that targets various sub-categories. Today’s announcement is of the Common Cents Mobile brand, which will debut in 700 Wal-Mart (NYSE: WMT) stores exclusively on Saturday. It joins another recently announced brand, Assurance Wireless, which targest low-income households.
The idea is to tap into a growing wireless category that is becoming adopted by a bigger percentage of the population. Sprint said in the first quarter of 2010, more than 50 percent of the mobile gross additions in the U.S. selected prepaid — a number it predicts will soar to about 70 percent by the end of the year. Still, you start to wonder what kind of toll it will take to support these various brands and strategies.
The latest Common Cents brand offers voice minutes for seven cents, and text messages for seven cents under no contract. In addition, the company will round down, not up, so when users talk for a fraction of a minute, those seconds won’t count. In fact, other carriers are known and criticized for rounding up. Not sure what happens if you talk for less that 60 seconds – and whether the call will count at all.
The handsets that go along with this plan are meant to be cheap, not full-featured. The LG101 costs $19.77, the Samsung M340 is $39.77, and the Kyocera S2300 will run you $69.77. If these phones are even capable of using data, it will cost $1 a megabyte a day.