Lycamobile website is live and Lycamobile will send you a free SIM for the asking.
There are three Lycamobile plans:
- $39 Unlimited Plan: Unlimited domestic talk and text. Unlimited data (100 MB at 4G speeds).
- $49 Unlimited Plan: Unlimited domestic talk and text. Unlimited data (250 MB at 4G speeds).
- Pay As You Go: 4¢/minute, 4¢/text, 6¢/MB, Minimum top-up is $5 good for 90 days. Unused balance rolls over when you top-up. Although the pay as you go plan is advertised on the Lycamobile site, according the Lycamobile telephone support it won't be available for a "few weeks".
Lycamobile is giving early adopters a little bonus. Through April 30, 2013, the $49 plan comes with $20 of free international call credit and the $39 Plan comes with a $10 international credit.
In Europe, Lycamobile is noted for inexpensive international calling. The US product does pretty well with international calls too. Prices for calls to mobile phones in the five Prepaid Phone News International Market Basket countries are: Canada 1¢; Mexico 4¢; China 2¢; UK 5¢; Philippines 12¢ - Total 23¢/ 5 = 4.6¢ Average. That puts Lycamobile in a tie with Ultra Mobile for the lowest International Market Basket prices. Like Ultra, Lyca offers international direct dialing with no access code required.
If you text very much internationally Lycamobile is not such a good deal. International texts are 12¢ each. Several other MVNOs with low international voice rates let you send international texts at no extra charge on pay as you go and for free on unlimited plans including PTel, Ultra. PrepaYd and Total Call.
Lycamobile plans include international roaming but the rates seem very high. Making a call from Canada to Canadian or US numbers costs $1.84/minute, texts are 64¢/each. Calling from Mexico to the US or Mexico is $4.60/min and texts are 74¢/each. The good news is that incoming calls and texts are free while roaming in either country.
Lycamobile offers auto-pay using a debit or credit card. It's not clear what taxes and fees Lyca charges. The website's FAQ page states that there are no "monthly or hidden charges" but it also says "All charges are inclusive of tax. However, there may be required sales and similar taxes that are required by the state and are charged by the retailer where you purchased your Lycamobile products. There may also be various federal and state fees that Lycamobile must collect or that Lycamobile must pay as part of regulatory requirements that Lycamobile may pass on to its customers."
The Lycramobile site doesn't reveal which mobile network operator the service uses. There's no coverage map on the site and the data APN settings don't provide any clues. As for phones, Lyca just says you can use any unlocked GSM phone. I called Lycamobile and was told that they use the T-Mobile network.
If you want to try Lycamobile, free SIMs are available. The web form for ordering SIMs is a bit wacky in that it doesn't want to let you enter a street address. After playing around with it a bit I think I found a trick that may let you order a SIM:
- Go to lycamobile.us/en/free-sim-request
- Enter the required fields, which including your zip code and press the Find Address button.
- A list of 50 or so addresses will appear. None of them are likely to be yours, so just pick one. Update: you must pick an address that's a PO Box, the address field is only unlocked for PO Boxes. If there are no PO boxes listed in your zip code you are out of luck.
- Click the Validate the address button.
- Change the pre-populated address fields to the correct values and press the Submit button.
The website said my order succeeded. I didn't get an email confirmation. Hopefully I'll get the SIM.
If it launches as advertised, Lycamobile's pay as you go will be a great deal. It has the best rate yet for pay as you go GSM data and a low minimum payment of $5 every 90 days.
Lyca's monthly plans are less competitive, particularly if you send many international texts. Ultra Mobile's unlimited plans start at $29 with unlimited international texting and international voice rates that are about the same as Lyca's. And Ultra's $49 plan includes 1 GB of high speed data, four times as much as Lyca. On the other hand Lyca's $39 plan does include 100 MB of high speed data vs none on Ultra.