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Prepaid Operator Profile: NET10

This is one of Prepaid Phone News' series of comprehensive US prepaid mobile operator profiles. These posts cover all the major US mobile operators and MVNOs that offer prepaid plans.

Overview: Straight Talk, TracFone, NET10 and SafeLink are all owned by Mexico based América Móvil, the fourth largest mobile operator in the world.

The four América Móvil US brands combined have 23 million subscribers which makes the company the largest US prepaid mobile operator. América Móvil does not break out subscriber numbers for each of its prepaid brands.

NET10 is a Mobile Virtual Network Operator (MVNO), it does not have a network of it's own but buys service from other operators which it re-sells.

NET10 phones use the T-Mobile, AT&T, Verizon and Sprint networks in the 50 states and Claro in Puerto Rico. Each NET10 phone has one of the five as its home network which it uses whenever possible.

NET10 GSM (AT&T and T-Mobile) phones on all plans and NET10 Verizon phones on pay as you go plans will roam on other networks for voice and text messaging only. Data roaming is available in some areas.

Net10 Verizon and Sprint phones on monthly plans do not roam at all.

See How to Tell Which Network (AT&T, T-Mobile or Verizon) a TracFone, NET10 or Straight Talk Phone Uses for more about NET10's network options.

Technology: AT&T and Claro based NET10 phones use GSM on the 850 and 1900 Mhz bands for voice and GPRS (2G), Edge (2.5G), UTMS/HSPA (3G) and HSPA+ (4G) data. NET10 AT&T SIMs in compaable phones can use AT&T's 700 Mhz Band 17 LTE network,

T-Mobile devices use the 1900 Mhz band for voice and GPRS (2G) and Edge (2.5G) and the 1700 Mhz AWS band for 3G and 4G. T-Mobile has begun deploying HSPA+ (4G) on the 1900 Mhz band in many areas to better serve users with unlocked AT&T phones and international visitors.

Sprint based NET10 phones use the 1900 MHz band for voice and data including EVDO 3G.

NET10 phones on the Verizon network use CDMA on the 850 and 1900 Mhz bands with 1xRTT (2.5G) and EV-DO 3G data.

Plans and Pricing: NET10 has pay as you go and monthly plans

NET10 Monthly Plans: NET10 has the following monthly plans

NET10 Monthly Plans
PlanMonthly CostPhonesVoiceSMSMMSData
1000 Minutes Plan$25non-smartphones1000 minutes1 min ea.1.5 min plus data used1 minute per minute of browsing
Unlimited Talk, Text and Data$35non-smartphones, smartphones, BYODunlimitedunlimitedunlimitednone
Unlimited Talk, Text and Data$40non-smartphones, smartphones, BYODunlimitedunlimitedunlimitedUnlimited, throttled to 128 Kbps after 500 MB
Unlimited Talk, Text and Data$50non-smartphones, smartphones, BYODunlimitedunlimitedunlimitedUnlimited, throttled to 128 Kbps after 2.5 GB
Unlimited Talk, Text and Data$60non-smartphones, smartphones, BYODunlimited unlimitedunlimitedUnlimited, throttled to 128 Kbps after 3.5 GB
Unlimited Talk, Text and Data$75non-smartphones, smartphones, BYODunlimited unlimitedunlimitedUnlimited, throttled to 128 Kbps after 5 GB

As is usually the case, NET10's "Unlimited" data does have limits. NET10's terms of service prohibit "continuously" streaming video or using the phone as a wireless modem for a laptop or other device (tethering).

Auto Refill and Family Plan discounts: Customers who enroll in auto-refill on the NET10 site using a credit or debit card get a $5 discount on unlimited monthly plans, making the Unlimited plan $45/month and the Unlimted International Plan $60/month. Customers with multiple phones on the $50/month plan get an additional $5 off the monthly plan price for the second and third phones.

Beware that canceling your NET10 service or porting your number from NET10 to another operator does not automatically cancel Auto Pay. You must call NET10 to cancel and avoid being charged for service you are no longer using.

NET10 Pay As you Go: NET10 gets its name from the original 10¢ per minute pricing of the pay as you plan, which for many years was the only plan available from NET10. Current pay as you go pricing varies from six to ten cents per minute depending on the amount you top up with and whether you buy a one time refill or enroll in an online only Easy Minutes auto-refill plan. The following airtime options are available.

NET10 Airtime
Cost Days of Service Minutes Price Per Month Price Per Minute
$15 1 30 200 $15 7.5¢
$20 30 200 $20 10¢
$30 60 300 $15 10¢
$30 1 30 500 $30
$45 60 600 $22.50 7.5¢
$60 90 900 $20 6.67¢
$100 180 1500 $16.67 6.67¢
1 Easy Minutes Plan - available online only, auto-refill required

Prices of messaging and data are based on voice minutes.
Text messages are charged at a rate of 0.5/minutes per text.
Data is charged at the rate of one minute of data use equals half a voice minute.
Picture messages cost one minute plus the cost of the data transfer which is typically another minute or two.

On NET10 pay as you go plans unused minutes roll over as long as the plan is refilled before its service end date.

International Rates: NET10 international calling and messaging features vary by plan.

NET10 has a  $65/month Unlimited International, Talk, Text and Data plan includes unlimited talk and text, 2.5GB of high speed data and unlimited calls to up to landlines in 32 countries (list of covered countries) and to cell phones in Canada, China, India and Mexico. NET10 does not support international direct dialing (+1 - country code - city code - phone number). Instead you have to dial an 11 digit access code, wait for a prompt and then enter the number your are calling, This plan is no longer listed on the NET10 site but is still available for activation

On the pay as you go and $25/1000 minutes plans, NET10 offers calls to 100 countries for 5 cents per minute extra. Free online registration is required to use this plan. International direct dialing is not supported, you need to dial a two character (*1) access code and wait for a prompt before dialing the international number.

Strangely it's not possible to send international text messages with most NET10 phones and SIMs even on the International Plan! The exception is with NET10's Android phones on the Sprint network which can send international texts at no extra charge.

Coverage: NET10 coverage varies depending on which network the phone uses. The AT&T based phones have the best overall coverage with the Verizon and T-Mobile phones close behind. Sprint based NET10phones have the smallest coverage footprint by far. Unlike most carriers NET10 does not provide detailed block by block coverage maps. See Coverage Maps For All Prepaid Carriers for links to coverage maps for the mobile operators that NET10 uses.

Devices: NET10 offers feature phones on the AT&T, Verizon and T-Mobile networks and Android phones on the Sprint, Verizon and AT&T networks. To determine which network a NET10 phone uses see, How to Tell Which Network (AT&T, T-Mobile or Verizon) a TracFone, NET10 or Straight Talk Phone Uses.

NET10 smartphones only work with the Unlimited plan, they can not be used on the pay as you go or 1000 Minute plans which are restricted to non-smartphones, aka feature phones.

NET10's branded feature phones (aka dumb phones) can be used on any NET10 plan.

SIMs and BYOP: NET10 also sells SIMs that you can use in any compatible GSM phone. Non-LTE Verizon phones except iPhones and BlackBerrys as well as most Sprint phones can also be activated. SIMs for the T-Mobile and AT&T networks and Verizon and Sprint BYOP activation codes are available from the NET10 site.

BYOP phones only work with the Unlimited plans, they can not be used on the 750 minute or pay as you go plans.

The GSM NET10 feature phones use SIM cards. However these SIMs are locked to the phone they were sold with and can not be used in any other phones including other NET10 phones. All NET10 phones are virtually impossible to unlock and can not be used on any other service.

Data (APN) Settings for NET10 SIMs for BYOP phones:
Data setup is tricky because NET10 has a nasty habit of changing their Access Point settings for AT&T based SIMs without notifying users.

Update 2/7/2014: Net10 has a new How To Update Data Settings Web page at www.net10.com/byop_apn/index.jsp. You enter your phone number or SIM ID for settings and instructions to get account and phone specific instructions. I recommend trying  NET10's settings first. If they don't work, try the ones below

SIMs activated since June.2013 should be using the "new" settings listed in the table below. But many accounts are still using the old values. Try the "New" settings first, if they don't work try the "Old" settings. If you have a phone that supports AT&T LTE band 17 you must use the "New" APN settings to get LTE and may also need a new SIM.

NET10 Android Setup
AT&T SIM "New" Settings AT&T SIM "OLD" Settings T-Mobile SIM
Name NET10 NET10 NET10
APN tfdata att.mvno 1 wap.tracfone
Proxy Leave blank 2 Leave blank 2 Leave blank 6
Port 80 80 8080
MMSC http://mms-tf.net 3 http://mmsc.cingular.com http://mms.tracfone.com
MMS Proxy 66.209.11.33 4 66.209.11.33 4 Leave blank 6
MMS Port 80 80 Leave blank
MCC 310 310 310
MNC 410 410 260
Authentication Type PAP PAP Leave blank
APN Type default,supl,mms 5 default,supl,mms 5 default,supl,mms 5
1 If you get no data with att.mvno, try wap.tracfone in the APN field
2 Straight Talk recommends using  proxy.mvno.tracfone.com but doing so causes speedtest.net and some other sites to be blocked. There are no known problems with leaving the proxy field blank.
3 If MMS doesn't work try setting the MMSC to http://mmsc.cingular.com
4 If MMS doesn't work try changing the MMS proxy to 66.209.11.32.
5  If the APN Type field is a dropdown, choose "internet+mms". If MMS isn't working try changing the APN type to default,mms or leaving it blank.
If data or MMS don't work try using 216.155.165.40 in the proxy and MMS proxy fields.

How to Buy: NET10 phones and are available at NET10.com and at major retailers including Target, Best Buy Walmart and Costco. Basic models can be purchased at supermarkets, convenience stores and chain drugstores.

SIMs and CDMA activation codes are available online at www.net10byop.com and from Amazon and eBay.
icon

How to Activate: NET10 phones can be activated at net10.com by clicking the Activate link at the top of the screen and following the instructions. You can also activate by calling 1-877-836-2368 from any phone except the one you are trying to activate.

After activating Verizon based phones online or by calling, NET10 will tell you to dial *22890 on the mobile phone to complete the activation. If that doesn't work try dialing *228 and choosing option 1 when prompted.

I've seen multiple reports of users having problems when porting existing numbers from another carrier using the website. Some have even lost their numbers. If you are porting it's best to call NET10, preferably using the "Executive Resolutions Dept." number at 1-305-715-6500 or 1-800-876-5753, Monday – Friday from 8:00 AM to 7:00 PM Eastern time.

Payment Options: PIN cards or codes are available at convenience stores, supermarkets, chain drugstores and big box retailers like Target and at NET10.com. PINs can be purchased at a discount from callingmart.com and other online retailers.

With NET10 feature phones you can top up with a PIN using the Prepaid menu on the phone.

You can refill using a credit or debit card by calling 1-877-836-2368, or on the NET10 site which also offers an auto-refill service. You can also buy top-up cards or PIN codes wherever NET10 phones are sold and at many convenience stores, gas stations and 3rd party online sites.

Taxes and Fees: Unlike most prepaid operators which include all taxes except state sales tax in the plan price, NET10 adds additional taxes to the price of refills These taxes vary by state and average between 76¢ and $1.72. You can avoid these taxes by by buying PINs online from sites like callingmart.com or at local retail stores.

Account Management: If you register at NET10.com you can top up and check your used and remaining minutes etc. online. On unlimited plans you can check data usage by texting USAGE to 611611.

Free information services calls
911 - Emergency services

Customer Service:
Phone support: 1-877-TEN-CENT (1-877-836-2368) is the official NET10 support number> Automated service for adding top-ups is available at this number 24/7. You can reach a customer support representative at this number from 8 AM to 10:45 PM Eastern Time 7 days a week. Calls are handled by off shore call centers. Wait times are usually short and the representatives courteous. However, they often appear to be following a script and seem unfamiliar with the details of NET10 devices and services.

The general support number for SIM Customers: is (855) 333-CELL (2355).

An alternative is NET10's "Executive Resolutions Dept.", a possibly Miami based call center at 1-305-715-6500 or 1-800-876-5753. It's available Monday – Friday from 8:00 AM to 7:00 PM EST. At other times calls to that number are handled by the off shore call centers. The Executive Resolutions representatives are more knowledgeable and better equipped to resolve complex issues. I recommend always calling 1-800-876-5753 for things like no service and billing issues, porting your number from another carrier and switching phones while keeping your service.

Social Media: Users have reported that they were able to get problems fixed by submitting a support ticket on NET10's Facebook page. NET10 is also active on Google+.

Phone Sales and General Information Web Site: NET10.com

NET10 Pros: Phones and Airtime cards are widely available. Inexpensive unlimited plans with data, good coverage with most phones, bringing your own device is supported.

NET10 Cons: poorly trained customer support, cumbersome international dialing, no international messaging on most phones, lack of detailed coverage maps, "taxes and fees" charged on online top-ups. Pay as you go rates are no longer very competitive.

Updated 12/13/2013: New $40, $60 and $75 plans, more minutes on $25 plan.

21 comments:

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  1. Family Dollar sells TracPhones and NET10 phones and SIMs online.

    ReplyDelete
  2. It's too bad that companies like Net10 and Straight Talk can't give people the best of both worlds!
    Since they sell both ATT and TMo it would be sweet if you could basically get both services at the same time for one price and have the phone pick whichever carrier had the best signal where ever you happen to be!

    It's really what happens when carriers merge...

    S

    ReplyDelete
  3. Interesting... So Net 10 is the only one that will roam? (voice & text) wonder if that would help with TMo DEAD spots where I live....


    S

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. NET10 is not the only prepaid operator with roaming. Straight Talk (some plans), T-Mobile prepaid, Ting, Solavei, Cricket, MetroPCS and Sprint As You Go all have roaming.

      Also NET10 only has roaming on their prepaid plan and their AT&T and T-Mobile based monthly plans. There is no roaming on NET10 Verizon and Sprint based monthly plans.

      Delete
  4. Figures... I'm using Ultra!
    Which I like otherwise!

    But there are crazy dead spots where I live that ATT does work in.

    S

    ReplyDelete
  5. Yeswap:
    I am not sure how you you became such a genius when it comes to this stuff, but WOW.

    Do you know if NET10 has started selling ATT sims again?

    My daughter and I live in USA and both have ATT iPhone 3Gs units which are UNlocked. we are happy with … except for the ATT service price. She will be in France for five weeks this summer but could get a difference SIM for that trip if needed.

    T-Mobile in our area would still be 2G service so am not keen on that …
    StraightTalk's terms of service seem less kind than NET10 but if they do not sell ATT sims that's a bummer.

    I’m sure you get a lot of e-mails like mine, so understand if you do not have time to comment….
    On the other hand, if you do have any thoughts I’d love to hear them on what we could do esp. if NET10 is no longer handling the ATT network :-/

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. NET10 still sells AT&T SIMs in certain zip codes like 65046 or 76825. Yo can order using one of those zip codes initialy and then changing the zip code to your own on the shipping address form.

      They are also available less expensively and without the zip code silliness from Amazon and eBay.

      Delete
  6. Thanks Dennis!
    Someone told me last night that Net10 sims were restricted and would not work in an ATT iPhone, but I'm unable to find any contract details that state that restriction ???

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. There's no such restriction. Getting data and MMS working with an iPhone on any AT&T MVNO is a little more difficult than with most phones but is doable.

      Delete
  7. Thanks Dennis!
    I've seen the Net10 instructions on how to do this, and hope it will work out OK ;-) If not, I've copied down all the support numbers you have given out.

    And seriously:
    You need to put a PayPal "Donation" button on your home page,
    you do an awesome job of helping all of us confused consumers figure out this complicated mess the carriers have foisted on us ;-)

    Jim

    ReplyDelete
  8. Sorry ... one more question.
    I understand that calling "Internationally" - from the USA to the (listed) other countries is permitted on some plans. If I am traveling abroad e.g. if I am in say France do I need to get a French-based SIM in order to call back to the USA, or will my USA-Net10 SIM allow me to call from France to USA?

    Thanks!
    Jim

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Using a US based SIM in another country is called international roaming. NET10 doesn't support it. The most cost effective solution would be to get a French SIM when you arrive in France.

      Delete
  9. Hi Dennis,
    It has been an education reading your site, thank you. Question: i'm planning on purchasing an "unlocked" LG Optimus L7 (ebay or Amazon)for use with a new Net10 contract, and am trying to find out if purchasing an AT&T compatible SIM card from Amazon as you suggest will work. Since Net10 doesn't sell AT&T SIMs here in Vermont, I'd be left with TMobile, which means no 3G and poor reception. Will my plan work-buy factory unlocked phone (some are called "international"), buy NET10 AT&T compatible SIM, activate? The Service call to NET10 was rough and inconclusive.
    Thanks in advance to anyone who might reply.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. You can use any AT&T or unlocked GSM phone that supports GSM & UMTS on the 850 & 1900 Mhz bands.

      The AT&T NET10 SIM will work anywhere you have AT&T coverage.

      Delete
  10. Thank you, Dennis. Does that mean GSM on 850 and UMTS on 1900? And is there a difference between UMTS, and HSPDA? Sometimes one is noted, sometimes the other. These phones use GSM 850/900/1800/1900 and WCDMA (UMTS) 900/2100, sometimes also 1900 is listed.
    I"m new to this, as you can tell. I just want to make sure one of these "factory unlocked" phones from Amazon/Ebay will function, which it looks like they will. But I had two merchants say I wouldn't get 3G, though they couldn't say why (!)

    Anyway, thank you very much.
    Bryan

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. For optimal voice coverage you need GSM 850 & 1900.

      For optimal 3G coverage you need UTMS 850 & 1900.

      HSPA, HSPDA, UMTS & WCDMA are all synonyms or favors of the same thing. They are all AT&T compatible 3G.

      Delete
  11. OK, thanks again. Looks like I'm out of luck on the 3G after all (no 850/1900). You did mean and, and not or, I guess (as in 850&1900)?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. In some areas AT&T uses 850 in others 1900 or both. Unfortunately there's no map showing which is where. If your phone has 3G on 1900 but not 850 you will not get 3G in all areas it's available.

      I recommend buying a fully compatible phone.

      Delete
  12. Thank you Dennis. Looks like I'll buy something directly from Net10, or ebay it for an AT&T phone.
    Thanks Again.

    ReplyDelete
  13. whitch sim card would be best for my unlocked cell phone?...at& or net10?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. That depends on what's important to you:
      NET10: $10/month cheaper, some off net work roaming
      BuT: lousy customer service, arbitrary data capping and throttling, unreliable MMS, difficult data and MMS setup on iPhones.

      AT&T: Much better support, fair and transparent data limits, no setup issues, LTE if your phone supports it, MMS is reliable.
      But costs $10/month more, no roaming

      Delete
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