AT&T is now following in the footsteps of Sprint and T-Mobile by creating a separate service for customers who are wary of signing up for a two-year mobile contract. Like Virgin Mobile and Ultra Mobile, AT&T’s Aio Wireless will offer relatively low-cost options without requiring a long-term commitment. This affordable, no-contract option is becoming increasingly appealing for both customers and carriers.
Aio prepaid plans range from $40-$70/month, which are common price levels for prepaid mobile plans. Every Aio plan offers unlimited data, talk, and text. The different prices for each plan are justified by the speed of the data that’s delivered, and what percentage of it is “high speed.” None of the Aio plans offer LTE, limiting their service to 4G data speeds topping out at 4 Mbps.
New customers to a contract-free Aio Wireless plan are offered a range of smartphones when signing up. Although you won’t have access to the discounts you get when agreeing to a two-year AT&T contract, some smartphone prices are set low enough to be well within the grasp of most consumers. A very capable Nokia Lumia 620, for example, will run you $179 if you buy it through Aio Wireless. For any smartphone running on a high-end Qualcomm® Snapdragon™ processor, that’s an eye-catching price point. Aio also offers phones from Samsung, ZTE, and other manufacturers.
Right now, Aio plans are only available in Tampa, Orlando, and Houston, but AT&T has plans to open up more markets soon.
This post is part of an ongoing series with Content Works. Stay tuned for more.