Do you have an inactive phone lying around that you'd like to use on your favorite prepaid carrier? Or maybe you've tempted by some of the great prices on used high end smartphones on Ebay or a used phone sales site like Best Buy's CowBoom.com. Using your own phone has been dubbed "Bring Your Own Phone" or BYOD and is becoming increasingly popular.
BYOD policies vary between one mobile operator and another. Among prepaid operators, AT&T and T-Mobile support BYOD but Verizon, Boost and Virgin do not. MVNOs tend to be more BYOD friendly. Verizon, AT&T and T-Mobile allow their MVNOs to activate just about any phone that's compatible with the networks. But with Sprint it's another story. Very few Sprint MVNOs have ever offered BYOD and the few that did were either told to stop by Sprint (Liberty Wireless) or are out of business like Zapp Mobile.
While no one in the industry will admit it for the record, I believe that Sprint has long had a policy prohibiting their MVNOs from offering BYOD. It looks like that may be changing. Last month Ting Wireless, a Sprint MVNO, announced that they would soon start allowing activation of any Sprint phone except iPhones, BlackBerrys and Sprint Push Talk Phones.
Ting's BYOD service won't go go live for at least a month but another Sprint MVNO just started offering BYOD. It's Kajeet, which specializes in "smart phones for kids". Of course its really targeted at parents with fine grained parental controls and a GPS phone locator, aka kid finder.
But you don't have to be a child to use Kajeet especially now that you can activate the Sprint phone of your choice. The only restrictions on Kajeet's BYOD are that the phone must be a Sprint phone, can't currently be active on Sprint, must have a "good" ESN (not reported as lost or stolen or blocked for non-payment) and can't be a BlackBerry or iPhone. Activating a BYOD phone on Kajeet is manual process that requires a call to Kajeet's toll free number (1-866-229-8506). BYOD activation is free and takes between five and seven days.