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Walmart's Getting In the Wireless Business

Illustration for article titled Walmarts Getting In the Wireless Business

Looks like Walmart's wrapping its tentacles around cellphones; the indomitable retailer announced its Walmart Family Mobile plan today. Surprise! It's cheap. Really, really cheap.

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Walmart Family Mobile will offer unlimited calling and texting for $45 per month for the first line, and an additional $25 for a second. The plan, in partnership with T-Mobile, also doesn't require a contract—which means there are no early termination fees to fret. The company will sell five handsets, from a $249 Motorola Cliq (the only smartphone on the list) all the way down to a $35 Nokia.

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The Cliq costs $80 less than it does off-contract through T-Mobile, and the voice/text plan is more than competitive. As for the data plan, well, there is no data plan, as such. According to a Walmart spokesperson:

Each new line of service comes preloaded with a 100MB WebPak and unused data never expires. Whenever that data is fully used, you can then decide if and how much additional data you want to purchase... If someone would like to buy more data, WebPaks refills come in 3 amounts:

$10: 200MB

$25: 500MB

$40: 1GB

So if you do get the Cliq, using it for much more than light browsing could get pretty expensive.

But that's not really who this plan is for: families who don't need/want smartphones. At least until they're cheap enough to line Walmart's aisles. [AP via BGR]

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DISCUSSION

I generally avoid wal-mart at all costs, but ironically I am willing support their venture into the mobile realm. The cost of US cellular service is absurd to the value, and deserves to be driven down one way or another.

My generic Japanese cell phone from 2 years ago had its own email adress (with free service) -nullifying the need for text plans, unlimited calls to anyone on your service, had front & back facing cameras, was capable of video chat, AND received standard Television broadcast for free... I watched the sumo championships everytime I rode the train. Not only was this service standard across all basic cell phones in Japan, it was all $40/mo.

My girlfriend came to America recently and laughed at the phone they gave her. She said the tech was about 15 years behind Japan, didn't even have a camera, and they were still charging $60/mo for half the service she had before.