As previously reported here, Net10 and Straight Talk started taking orders today for unlocked SIMs at www.straighttalksim.com and www.net10sim.com.The SIMs cost $14.99 and 3 day shipping is included. They can be used in any unlocked GSM or and locked T-Mobile or AT&T phone, including the iPhone, Android and Windows Phone devices. These SIMs can only be used on unlimited plans which cost $45/month from Straight talk and $50/month from Net10.
Each carrier is offering both regular and micro SIMs, (required for iPhones and Nokia Lumias). Each type of SIM is available with either AT&T or T-Mobile as its home network. When you order you are asked if you are using a:
- Blackberry, or branded TracFone, SafeLink, NET10 or Straight Talk
- Unlocked Phone (Phone must operate in 850 and 1900 MHz bands)
- AT&T Compatible Phone
- T-Mobile Compatible Phone
If you pick Unlocked Phone the site will ask for a zip code but you will not get to choose between a T-Mobile or AT&T SIM. When I used a San Francisco zip code the site offered me an AT&T SIM. Which is a little surprising as the Straight Talk and Net10 sites normally default to selling phones with T-Mobile SIM to San Francisco customers.
If you want a specific carrier SIM I suggest saying you have an AT&T or T-Mobile compatible phone rather than an unlocked one. Just keep in mind that for 3G data T-Mobile uses the AWS band (1700 Mhz uplink /2100 Mhz downlink) for 3G while AT&T uses 850 and 1900 Mhz. Be sure your phone supports the same bands as the carrier you choose, otherwise you will be stuck with slow EDGE (2.5G) data speeds.
At this time it's not known if new SIMs support roaming or if there are any data caps. On their FAQ pages Straight Talk and Net10 only say that there are no roaming charges and that tethering (using the phone as a wireless modem for a PC or other device) is not allowed.
Anecdotal reports suggest that there is a hard data cap of around 100 MB/day and 1 or 2 GB/month on Straight Talk and Net10 "unlimited" data. Exceed that and your data will be cut off until you call customer support who will restore it once or twice.
Current Straight Talk and Net10 phones with T-Mobile and AT&T SIMs support voice-only roaming. As AT&T's native coverage is much larger (the Simple Mobile map on this page shows T-Mobile native coverage), I recommend getting an AT&T SIM provided your phone supports AT&T 3G frequencies and you have AT&T coverage in the areas where you will regularly use your phone.