Rabu, 25 Juni 2008

Recent market moves suggest that counting mobile minutes used could go the way of the oversized car phones that laid the foundation for todays wireless revolution.

Following in the footsteps of Verizon, AT&T, T-Mobile and Sprint Nextel, Virgin Mobile USA is the latest wireless carrier to adopt an unlimited pricing plan. Citing the rising cost of gas, air travel, and other items, Virgin unveiled its Totally Unlimited calling plan for $79.99 a month on Tuesday.

"Totally Unlimited for 79.99 per month is simply a better value than postpaid plans offer," said Bob Stohrer, chief marketing officer of Virgin. The plan will be offered on July 1 as the lowest-priced and first unlimited nationwide calling plan without roaming charges or an annual contract.


In February, Verizon Wireless announced its $99 plan for voice. AT&T and T-Mobile came in behind them and added text messaging to an unlimited voice plan for the same $99.

Then Sprint Nextel came out with its flat-rate service with unlimited voice, e-mail, text messaging, Web surfing, video and other features for, again, $99 a month.

"Consumers like the flat-pricing model. They are tired of thinking about mobile minutes. So the more carriers can bundle together into one, the better for consumers," said Michael Gartenberg, an analyst at JupiterResearch.


Consumers who opt for Virgins Totally Unlimited plan will be able to talk as much as they want each month, including days, nights, weekdays and weekends.

Those plan include a host of monthly and pay-as-you-go plans without annual contracts, as well as new Top-Up card denominations and a range of text and messaging packs, including a $10 unlimited messaging offer.

"It is simply not necessary to sign a two-year contract to get real worth with your wireless plan," Stohrer said. Virgin is trying to prove that point with recent enhancements to its pay-as-you-go and monthly plans unveiled in March.

Stohrer was quick to point out that Virgins offer surpasses regional carriers unlimited calling plans when you factor in that most add on roaming charges that can cost as much as 79 cents per minute.

"Its simply natural that you are going to see other carriers getting on board. When this whole price war sparked off, it started with one major carrier and the other major carriers quickly followed suit," Gartenberg said. "At this point, if you are in this space you need to have an unlimited plan for your consumers that like that model and want to embrace it."


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