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Aio Wireless To Be Available Nationwide Mid-September

AT&T announced today that Aio Wireless service will be available to all U.S. customers starting online at www.aiowireless.com in mid-September.

Aio is AT&T's new value priced brand which offers monthly plans starting at $40/month for phones and $15/month for tablets. The brand has been doing a phased roll-out, one city at a time, since May. It's currently only available to residents of Florida, Texas, Atlanta and Chicago. In the initial markets, Aio has been emphasizing sales through brick and mortar retail locations although online sales are available if you have the right zipcode.

Nationwide availability next month marks a change from Aio's earlier announcements that had pegged the full roll-out as occurring "over the coming year".

Aio sells a number of smartphones and feature phones ranging in price from $29.99 for a Samsung Denim flip phone to $649.99 for the 16GB iPhone 5. $9.99 SIM cards let you using Aio with your own unlocked GSM phone. Locked AT&T phones also work, with the exception of iPhones which reportedly must be unlocked.

Aio also announced a new promotion today. New customers who activate service in stores or online by September 29, 2013 will get their third month of service free. To qualify the customer must purchase two consecutive months of service and customers who activate in-store must enroll in autopay. The free month is in the form of an account credit which qualifying customers will receive 5 days before the payment due date for their third month.

 Here's Aio's plan line-up:

Plan Name Monthly Price Hi-Speed 1 Data Before Throttling Allowed devices
Aio Tablet $15 250 MB Tablets Only
Aio Basic $40 250 MB Basic Phones Only
Aio Smart $55 2 GB Smartphones Only
Aio Pro $70 7 GB Smartphones Only
High-Speed data is throttled to a maximum of 8 Mbps for LTE data and 4 Mbps for HSPA+. After the high-speed data cap is reach speed is further throttled to about 256 Kbps.

Image: Facebook

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37 comments:

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  1. So, the Aio $55 plan is $5 cheaper than GoPhone for 2 GB. It always seems odd to me to have a company compete with itself like this. What are the pluses and minuses of Aio vs. GoPhone?

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    1. Unthrottled LTE, the comfort of mind that you can walk into an AT&T store and pay your bill and get customer service there, doing business directly with AT&T instead of a prepaid subsidiary, and supposedly by reading this article you have to have your iphone unlocked to work on Aio, which is weird when compared to other AT&T mvnos.

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    2. "the comfort of mind that you can walk into an AT&T store and pay your bill and get customer service there"

      I take it you haven't set foot in an AT&T store lately.

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    3. "the comfort of mind that you can walk into an AT&T store and pay your bill and get customer service there"

      Theoretically, you can do that with either GoPhone or Aio, though sometimes the term "customer service" doesn't come to mind. Like the time my daughter's phone stopped receiving all voice calls and several trips to the local AT&T store left it still unfunctional, with the advice to come back in six months when we were up for a new phone.

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    4. Well people aren't perfect, but I'd rather deal with AT&T customer service than Aio or any other AT&T mvno customer service.

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  2. I was waiting for this announcement. Now, I'll wait for the cost of the iPhone 5 to come down after the introduction of the new iPhone and I'll jump ship.

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  3. Do these plans include taxes; or do you have to pay that separately? I know most of the MVNO's include the taxes so you pay for example, $55 up front for the AIO smart plan,and that's it.

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    1. Their website mentions that all prices include taxes and fees. Which is a pretty sweet deal.

      Question - is AT&T's HSPA+ speed on Straight Talk 10mbps? Would it be ok to assume that LTE Speeds on Aio will be faster than HSPA+ speeds on Straight Talk?

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    2. Typical speeds I've seen on AT&T HSPA+ are in the 2-6 Mbps range. Aio LTE should be faster.

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    3. @Dennis Thanks. Do you know if Aio will offer nano sims?

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    4. They already do. Go to www.aiowireless.com/shop/byod.html and enter "iPhone 5" in the "Search for your phone" box.

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  4. I suspect if Aio is successful, AT&T will eliminate GoPhone (and possibly Cricket) by merging it/them with Aio. AT&T markets itself as the "premier" (postpaid) brand, with GoPhone/Aio/Cricket as the separate (prepaid) brand.

    AT&T is no fool; they see the prepaid market is rapidly growing. Witness their actions - launching Aio, buying Cricket. Aio stores are separate from AT&T stores - this makes eliminating GoPhone floor space in AT&T stores (and freeing up employees from non-commission GoPhone sales) possible. They also know there is a consumer segment that considers prepaid "lower class"; eliminating GoPhone from AT&T stores eliminates any perceived prepaid stigma(s).

    By having two "separate" companies, AT&T satisfies both prepaid and postpaid marketplaces.

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    1. ha. don't believe that. gophone and cricket have more brandname presence than aio. if anything, the same argument could be made that they could all be put under cricket.

      at&t is mostly likely just craving up prepaid market segments where each comes under the different brands while knowing the gruntbrain consumers will either want at&t (gophone) or may not want at&t without realizing that aio and cricket are owned by at&t.

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    2. If anything, we'll see Aio Wireless brand disappear. I think AT&T started Aio Wireless while pursuing Leap just in case regulators put the kibosh on the merger. This way, if it falls through, AT&T can continue to grow it's prepaid business.

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  5. iPhone: You have to unlock iPhones for use on Aio. Unlike all the other AT&T mvno's, Aio uses an mnc of 150 instead of 410, which was the only at&t mnc I had ever seen.

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  6. How strange that they even thought of such a bizarre concept as specifying the type of phone that a person can bring to the $40 plan

    ... like specifying the type of glass a person can use to drink the wine from a bottle he/she buys.

    The entire wireless industry has been like this from the getgo, more than two decades, full of BS rules and regulations that make doing business harder rather than easier.





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    Replies
    1. Regulation comes from the feds, not at&t.

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    2. Wrong. This isn't a regulation but a business policy.

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    3. I agree that in the long run the best business strategy is to create products that the customer wants and to continually refine how best to meet their needs. Phone and cable companies instead seem to try to force consumers in directions they really don't want to go--short term profits, but when some game-changing company comes along watch out. For example, imagine what some company like Google or Amazon might do if they decide to provide Wireless service.

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  7. If a platform owner (Ios, Google, MS) wanted to start their own wireless carrier, they would have by now.

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  8. Sounds like the Aio brand's in-store sales were MUCH lower than expected and they HAD to go nationwide with online sales.

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    1. I think it's more pressure from competition. AT&T felt the need to move faster because of the pressure T-Mobile is exerting. AT&T is probably caving in to the new reality of the wireless industry where growth is in prepaid service.

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  9. When Boost Mobile introduced it's Unlimited Plan for 50.00 back in the winter of 2009, it was a huge game changer. It forced the competition to heat up and prices to come down. Then, when Tracfone introduced Straight Talk, even more downward pressure has been put on pricing. I think the post-paid industry was hoping for Straight Talk and Boost's ultimate failure because this turned the industry upside down. Then Page Plus Cellular followed suite and the rest is history unfolding.

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    1. No different than any other service, evolve or die.

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    2. I am more impresed with Verizon prepaid, at&t has a bad , rightly earned reputation. Verizon pre/postpaid much more prestigious, I mean it's Verizon, how do you get better at$50? Aio, gophone don't have much name recog.

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    3. I still think the Aio brand should have been offered at every ATT retail location in order to saturate the market and then phase out the GoPhone brand over time.

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    4. Who cares about "prestige" in a wireless company? I would dispute your contention that Verizon has a better reputation than AT&T. I live in an area where Verizon controlled almost all the landline business, which is one big reason many of us ditched them years ago and went all cell phone. AT&T has its warts, as they all do, but from what I see and read there is not much difference between the big carriers in terms of customer satisfaction around here, and AT&T and its various prepaid MVNOs tend to be a bit cheaper. Independent MVNOs on AT&T are even better deals. I don't believe, for example, there is a Verizon MVNO with unlimited talk and text for $30 or under like there is on AT&T. Not to forget the whole GSM vs. CDMA thing.

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  10. I will sit and wait in this Obummer economy.

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  11. I don't think Aio is going to help AT&T take very much business from MetroPCS and GoSmartMobile; copying the term 'Simple' to describe Aio plans and using the similar purple colors is not enough (;-) $55 for a smartphone plan is not very competitive with $35, $40 or $45, despite the Aio data coverage advantage. The demographic they are trying to attract is price-sensitive, and I believe most will sacrifice data coverage for MetroPCS unlimited data plans, or give up overall coverage and data speed for GoSmart's low prices. I have not read that MetroPCS is throttling data speed for everyone, but they have the same disclaimer as Tmobile about giving priority to plans that include 2gb of data or more.

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    1. To me coverage is king, which is why I only consider MVNOs on AT&T or Verizon. I really don't get the point of cell service that is OK at home but no good when you hit the road--which is when I use my phone the most. At home I have other options for communicating, like email, Google Voice, etc., but when traveling it is often just my phone, so coverage is critical. YMMV.

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    2. There is more than one way to get coverage. I would rather spend my money on new gadgets vs giving more to AT&T or Verizon. I use Tmobile prepaid in my main smartphone (voice and sms roaming on AT&T, no extra cost). On my auto trips I carry a backup unlocked smartphone with hotspot that uses a Truphone sim, for data roaming on AT&T (balance never expires). My Freedompop 3G/4G hotspot ($3.95/month for 500mb) gives me flexibility and lower data cost on Sprint; my Tmobile phones can call over WiFi too. Bills run $32-$38/mo when I travel, depending on Truphone use and the number of unlimited calling days on Tmobile. When I don't travel, I spend only $20-$25/month on Tmobile prepaid. Lower service cost is the gift that keeps on giving.

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    3. "There is more than one way to get coverage. I would rather spend my money on new gadgets vs giving more to AT&T or Verizon."

      Sounds like a lot of complication and hassle to me, but to each his own. Personally, I want no hassle voice and sms everywhere I go, or at least as many places as possible, which means AT&T or Verizon service. You can get unlimited voice and messaging on AT&T MVNOs for less than $30 per month.

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    4. Phone life is simple and inexpensive when all you need is talk and text. Ah, the good old days.

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    5. Aio is not going to attract anybody who only want talk and text. At least Metro has the $25 unlimited TnT, with free roaming on AT&T. If coverage is King, Tracfone CDMA is the best plan (most roaming agreements - check the map). AT&T and Verizon prepaid maps have a lot more big coverage holes.

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  12. Agreed, one device is plenty, I like saving money, but there is a point of diminishing returns and the hassle of more than one device.

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  13. Aio is now available for my zip code on the website. It wasn't previously. They seem to be rolling out earlier than "mid-September."

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