Home - , , - Updated: Virgin Mobile and Walmart Launching New Shared Data Plans With Free Hotspot

Updated: Virgin Mobile and Walmart Launching New Shared Data Plans With Free Hotspot

Virgin Mobile USA and Walmart are launching new Data Done Right plans tomorrow, Jan 17. All the plans require special Data Done Right phones that will be available exclusively at Walmart. There will be three group plans and two plans for individuals. First the group plans: 

  • $65/month for 2 lines with unlimited voice and messaging and 4 GB of 3G/LTE data shared between lines 
  • $90/month for 3 lines with unlimited voice and messaging and 8 GB of 3G/LTE data shared between lines 
  • $115/month for 4 lines with unlimited voice and messaging and 12 GB of 3G/LTE data shared between lines 
All the group plans allow customers to use their phones as a mobile hotspot at no extra charge. The data limits on the group plans are hard caps, data stops when the limit is reached.

In addition to the new multi-line plans, Virgin Mobile is also launching two new single line Data Done Right plans tomorrow:

  • $35/month 300 voice minutes, unlimited messaging and data with the first 2.5 GB of data at high speeds
  • $45/month unlimited voice minutes, messaging and data with the first 2.5 GB of data at high speeds
On the single line plans, after 2.5 GB of data is used, data speeds will be reduced to "2G" levels (presumably 128 Kbps) for the remainder of the plan month. The new single line plans require the same special Walmart exclusive phones as the group plans. The individual plans do not include free hotspot, nor is their apparently any way to add hotspot to them.

The new plans will require special phones, sold exclusively by Walmart, that are pre-loaded with a Virgin Mobile data-sharing application. There will be four phones available at launch; the $79.88 LG Tribute, $99.88 HTC Desire, $129.88 Samsung Galaxy Core Prime and the $149.88 LG Volt. All four support LTE. The Samsung Galaxy Core Prime, which is the same hardware as Boost Mobile's Samsung Prevail 2, is new to Virgin Mobile. More devices are promised at the end of Feburary.

The pre-installed Virgin Mobile data-sharing application lets the primary account holder view the other's usage and choose how much of the shared data is available to each user. Parental controls (including data curfews and app restrictions) will be available through the app at no extra charge as well as the ability to purchase a various extra cost add-ons listed below.

Data Pack Add-Ons: $2/100 MB, $5/500 MB, $10/1 GB, $15/2 GB, $25/4 GB $35/6 GB, $65/12 GB, $85/20 GB. The $15 and higher add-ons auto renew, the cheaper ones do not.

Voice and Text Roaming: All plans include unlimited text roaming and 100 minutes of domestic voice roaming. Additional voice roaming can be added at $5/month for 60 minutes.

Data Roaming: $2.50/10 MB, $5/20 MB, $10/40 MB.

International Add-ons:
$3/month unlimited international text messaging.
$5 unlimited calls to Canada and landlines only in Mexico.
$10/month 1,000 minutes to mobile phones in Mexico and landlines in the Dominican Republic and unlimited calling to 70+ countries (landlines only, select cities).

Country Specfic add-ons: are available for 24 countries at prices ranging from $10 for 1000 minutes to India or Malaysia to $20 for $35 minutes to Cuba.

Apps Without Data Charges: Unlimited access to the Facebook (does not include Facebook Messenger!),  Pinterest, Twitter and Instagram apps is $5 per month per app for one device.

Music Without Data Charges: Unlimited access to all of the streaming music services Pandora, Shazam, iHeartDadio, SoundCloud and Spotify is $5 per month for one device.

In an unwelcome first for Virgin Mobile, a $20 per line "Starter Kit" will be required to activate a line of service on Data Done Right plans. The $20 is not completely wasted as it includes two months of "Music Without Data Charges" (a $10 value). Switching phones on an existing Data Done Right line is free and doesn't require a $20 Starter Kit.

The Data Done Right plans seem like a decent deal, especially for multi-line users who want to use mobile hotspot. Downsides are the limited selection of relatively low end phones and the $20 activation fee. The $35 single line plan doesn't seem like a good deal as it costs the same as Virgin's otherwise identical regular 300 minute plan which offers a better device selection and no $20 starter kit fee. The $45 single line plan is better as it at least offers 2.5 GB of high speed data compared to 1 GB for the regular $45 plan.

According to a report by Fierce Wireless the new plans are replacing the short-lived Virgin Mobile Custom brand which launched in August as a Walmart exclusive using a similar pre-installed app. Both custom and the new Data Done Right and Unlimited plans are based on technology Sprint has licensed from ItsOn Inc. A Sprint spokesperson told FierceWireless that Custom failed to gain traction because it's many options were too complicated for many customers and Walmart sales associates to understand.

Update 1/17: Virgin Mobile has put up a web page with more details about the new Data Done Right data sharing plans that clarifies that the free hotspot is only available with group plans not individual plans. It also lists all the extra cost features that can be added to either individual or group Data Done Right Plans. This post has been extensively updated to include to reflect this new information from Virgin Mobile. So far there's no sign of the Data Done Right phones on the Walmart web site.

Sources Virgin Mobile, FierceWireless

Related Posts:
Prepaid Operator Profile: Virgin Mobile
Zact Users Migrating to Virgin Mobile Custom, Here's What It Costs


43 comments:

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  1. LOL@ "hard for wal-mart associates to understand", the same Wal-Mart electronics employee that told me 3 years ago that Straight Talk ran on Walmart's very own network still claims it's true to this day and that Verizon/At&t handle the billing only, I am not kidding.

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    1. Takes a 3rd grade education to understand the way Custom/Zact worked. More like a complete lack of marketing and device selection is what caused it to not gain any traction. Not to mention the evisceration of the original Zact model. I doubt this will fair any better, further eviscerating the adjustability of the plans and still no reasonable device selection and marketing will probably match that of Custom.
      It would have been nice if Its On had made their technology available to actual MVNOs who could actually make it work. With the latest OTA updates to most Sprint devices that included Its On software it is obvious that BYOSD would have been possible.
      So what happens to Custom users?

      Delete
  2. The $35 is a "new" plan?

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    1. It isn't. However, ironically, the other single line plan is somewhat "new" because the old $45 2.5GB plan had been yanked before being restored here.

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    2. The $35 is a "new plan" in the sense that it restricts you on the variety of handsets available to you--an obvious step BACKWARDS, but a "new plan," nevertheless, lol! VM is counting on consumers not to notice this, and believe me based on what I've read on this forum so far, people are more gullible than you think (to the point of actually claiming the more restrictive phone selection is actually a GOOD thing).

      I was with Virgin Mobile for 8+ years and have been on their $25/mo plan with unlimited 3G data, unlimited txt + 300 minutes. I wanted to upgrade to the Samsung Galaxy S III just to have a more powerful and mainstream handset (I didn't even care for Sprint's 4G LTE since it's not available where I live anyway). Despite being a longtime & loyal customer who always pay on time, they refused to grandfather me in the $25 price-point even after several attempts on the reasoning that the S3 is an LTE-capable device.

      I took my business to T-Mobile and enrolled in their secret $30/mo plan which gives me 5 GB of LTE data (which I actually do get signal for, but never used more than 1.2 GB at any given month), unlimited text + 100 minutes. Best decision I've made. And this is all knowing that if at any point T-Mobile fails me, I can always take my S3 (which was unlocked just after 4 months with T-Mobile) to H2O or another GSM-based MVNO instead of ending up with a worthless CDMA phone that won't work with any other carriers or MVNO.

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  3. I feels like they are undoing the recent plan changes. Not surprising at all consider the changes made Virgin less competitive.

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  4. How is the "new single line Unlimited plans... ["$35/month 300 voice minutes, unlimited messaging and data with the first 2.5 GB of data at high speeds"] exclusively through Walmart" any different from what VM have been offering for the past 3+ years? I'm not understanding. If anything, it's WORSE, with a more restrictive phone selection.

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    1. The pricing of VM's phones make it attractive to a lot of people that don't want to mess with finding their own phone hoping it works. To the average customer $35 is a great price point.

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    2. Cricket offers a $35 plan (with auto pay) on a better network with more phone choices and no activation fees. Also available at Walmart.

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    3. "The pricing of VM's phones make it attractive to a lot of people that don't want to mess with finding their own phone hoping it works."
      If you have a phone running on Sprint's network like a Virgin phone you're always hoping it will work and half the time it doesn't.

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    4. The webpage for the Data Share Plans are live on VM's website (and promoted on one of the rotating banners). Fine print states the plans include 100 minutes of domestic voice roaming and other roaming is available for additional fees.

      It's very obvious they're promoting the multiple line plans over the single line plans. What I find interesting since they're promoting shared data is someone going for the two lines for $65 is in fact being penalized for saving $5 as there are 4 GB shared on the two lines versus 2.5 GB per line on the $35 single line plan.

      TBH, this anonymous is on a Sprint MVNO not listed on this site that's an exclusive to another retailer. (This MVNO does offer excellent customer service at least.) After upgrading from a basic phone to an Android on this MVNO, Sprint network coverage fluculates every few feet and with every change in elevation (sometimes with less coverage above ground than on the ground), and coverage flips from 4G to 3G constantly. Sprint's coverage maps claim the area should have the "Best" signal strength. In short, this anonymous would not recommend anything running on Sprint to anyone seeking network excellence.

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  5. @sdlock wrote: How is the "new single line Unlimited plans... ["$35/month 300 voice minutes, unlimited messaging and data with the first 2.5 GB of data at high speeds"] exclusively through Walmart" any different from what VM have been offering for the past 3+ years? I'm not understanding. If anything, it's WORSE, with a more restrictive phone selection."

    If I remember correctly, VM changed the terms of the longstanding $35 and $45 plans to significantly reduce the amount of data (from 2.5G to 1G, or something like that?). Former users are, however, grandfathered. These new Walmart plans resurrect the former deal, but with the new Walmart+Crap Phones restriction

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    1. The regular (non-Walmart exclusive) $35 300 min 2.5 GB plan is still available.
      The regular (non-Walmart exclusive) $45 plan was changed in October from: 1200 minutes and 2.5 GB to: unlimited minutes and 1 GB.

      Details here: New Virgin Mobile Plans Launching Oct 4.

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    2. Thank you Dennis for the clarification, thereby confirming my original stance that this new $35 Walmart exclusive is totally worthless compared to what VM already offers. But then again, there are still some people out there who actually believe this new plan to be a good deal because it'd alleviates people from having to deal with the "mess with finding their own phone hoping it works." Lol, give me a break!

      Delete
  6. Custom was expensive nor complicated. Cricket (ATT) and Tmobile both offer 5 lines for $100.
    Sprint offers slower data, less coverage, limited device choice at a higher cost? I think Sprint is suicidal.

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    1. The fact that they use the restrictive CDMA devices doesn't help either.

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    2. SD, is there anything you don't know?

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  7. Virgin changed their standard $45 plan from 2.5GB to only 1GB just to add unlimited talk.
    Virgin's new Walmart $45 plan offers both 2.5GB and unlimited talk on the Sprint network without any roaming. Plus a $20 activation fee WOW!
    Straight Talk's $45 plan offers 3GB with unlimited talk and text on AT&T or Verizon with more/better phone choices and BYOP option without any activation fees.
    I'm sure Virgin's new plans will compete very well.
    I don't think Sprint's new CEO is any smarter than the last one.

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    1. But Straight Talk's downfall is that they do not unlock their phones (even the GSM ones), and most importantly, they prohibit streaming of video or even music on network. On any given day you use more than a mere 100 MB of data, they will shut off your data on suspicion that you're streaming. So in essence, the 3 GB monthly allotment means nothing.

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    2. Straight Talk will in fact unlock your phone after one year of paid service. Virgin phones and all other Sprint based phones can never be unlocked.
      Straight Talk is only one of many MVNOs with better plans, better phones and a better network than anything Virgin or Sprint has to offer.

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    3. Straight Talk's unlocking policy is not particularly user friendly:

      The phone was first introduced for sale on or after January 1, 2014.
      The phone has been in service for at least 12 months with paid, verifiable airtime.
      The phone has not been reported lost or stolen.
      The phone is deemed by Straight Talk to be capable of being unlocked.

      Have you had a phone unlocked by Straight Talk? So far I haven't heard of anyone who has.

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    4. Exactly! Shortcomings of America Movil MVNOs (Straight Talk, TracFone, & Net10):
      __ They refuse to unlock their phones (even the GSM ones). I'm pretty sure the only phones they arbitrarily "deemed" to be unlockable are the lower-end or feature phones.
      __ They prohibit streaming of video or even music on network.
      __ They will shut off your data (after you use 100 MBs of data in a single day) on suspicion that you're streaming. So it doesn't matter if they advertise 5GB or 10GB of allotted data per month. What's the point of having that much data if you can't even use it?

      Their reputation for abysmal customer service is just the tip of the iceberg.

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    5. I don't like Straight Talk either. But compared to Virgin or anything running on Sprint Straight Talk offers service on better networks with better phone choices at the same monthly price with no activation fees. Virgin and Sprint phones can never run on any other network.
      I only compared Virgin to Straight Talk because they're both available at Walmart.
      There are better options available than Straight Talk or Virgin.

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  8. I heard on the grapevine that Virgin Mobile is going to become more and more of a Big Box brand and less an independent dealer's brand. They are going to take Virgin Mobile away from dealers except for maybe Paylo, a half baked neither fish nor foul verison of paygo mixed with monthly plan frequencies, an unhappy medium with neither the rollover of true paygo nor their longer expiration times. And continuing their ANTI BYOD stance like the Virgin Mobile of old by trying to pigeon hole people into a tiny number of handsets. Stupid. But that is to be expected from a company like Sprint which share more letters with the word stupid then (STPI) then any of the other big four. Sprint has always been the least byod friendly of all four carriers. Even with their vaunted BYOSD program given to their mvnos (which have a very high mortality/failure rate) , they still won't let you use anything newer then a year old, Blackberries, Palms (like anyone cares about the last two, ) And at the same time have a horribly crippled Byosd system on Boost mobile and of course, there's Sprint prepaid who also restricts handsets. Sprint should get this, NOBODY thinks they are worth that much. Tmobile has a more aggressive network, better byod and is better value on the lower end then Sprint. End of story.

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  9. VM should have just reduced the Beyond Talk plans by $5/month. Would have been simpler.

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  10. I just think it is a shame how Sprint has eviscerated the Zact model. Zact(Its On) could have made the Its On technology/model work, but that was never their intention. Its On just used subs as guinea pigs to show there was a demand for the service, that the service was feasible and potentially profitable and license it off as they did with Sprint, giving them exclusive rights. Sprint/investors have no patience to invest in making the Zact model work. Sprint gave Custom 4 months to "get traction" with no marketing and a few pegs on a Walmart rack and I bet they don't give this Data Done Right crap any more time or attention. Hopefully Sprint will bow out and break its exclusive rights to the technology, so Its On will allow start up MVNOs the ability to license the technology at a reasonable rate and see it through on a smaller scale as Zact could have done had they wanted. Had Zact simply incorporated BYOSD they would have brought over many more subs, this was the biggest complaint from those wanting to use the Zact service, as it is with with Sprints VM, of course Boost is making the right move towards BYOSD.
    If you took a good look at the Zact model it really could have been made successful , more affordable on the data end and easily competed with the array of Sprint MVNOs. Matching or beating Tings rates would have given Ting a run for their money since you could micro manage your usage with Zact.

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    1. This is wishful thinking. The only reason Zact Mobile existed was to serve as a proof-of-concept for the platform. Sprint liked what it saw and decided to license the tech for its prepaid brands. This does not stop other carriers from adopting ItsOn, but seeing as Virgin Mobile Custom failed, it's unlikely that its on has generated further carrier interest in the US. The majority of US prepaid customers don't want to deal with constantly managing how much service they need for a given month. In contrast, customers in Latin America and South/Southeast Asia are used to paying for service by the day or week and the ItsOn platform would be perfect to allow customers to choose how much access they need without overpaying.

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    2. "The only reason Zact Mobile existed was to serve as a proof-of-concept for the platform." This is BS - just a figment of your imagination. You don't convince Best Buy to deploy Zact to more than 400 stores and win the Fierce 15 Award and other awards as a proof of concept.

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    3. The goal of most tech startups is to be acquired or license their technology not to run a low margin, labor intensive business like an MVNO.

      Whatever the Zact founders initial business plan was they had no problem shutting the MVNO down as soon as they cut a licensing deal with Sprint

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    4. @ Dennis, Its On is no recent start up and Zact was a Sub of Its On and all original sentiment was that Zact was to be a player in the MVNO game, Raleigh lied to us Zact customers!

      @ HSaabedra Its On never gave Zact the tools to succeed because it was not their intention and the CEO Greg Raleigh came out and said as much leading up to the subsequent closure of Zact services and the transition to VM Custom.
      As I previously mentioned, BYOD would have opened up the service to many new subs and who knows what the out come would have been. There was certainly interest in the the MVNO no matter your baseless assumption that users don't want the ability to mange their usage, but it was a hard sell since the devices offered were quite expensive, the selection extremely limited with short production runs.
      BYOD was an option since Its On demonstrated that the technology can be sent OTA to Android devices during the transition of Zact customers over to VM Custom and since many Sprint devices have received OTA up dates that included the Its On functionality and now many come with it already installed, so there was no reason for Zact not doing so.
      You are also incorrect, the Its On technology is not available to anyone else as Sprint has the exclusive rights to it!
      For the most part Custom was failure because Sprint eviscerated the service by eliminating the micro tiers, dropped included Voice and Data Roaming and let it wither on the back racks at Walmart, had they left it mostly intact and sold it as their Pre-Paid brand (as Zact customers were originally told) and with knowledgeable C/S at the Sprint Store level I believe it would have took off. I don't see this changing now that they have transitioned VM Custom to Data Done Right.
      Zact did not shut down per se, they transitioned to VM Custom because Sprint purchased the exclusive rights and VM Custom has now transitioned to Data Done Right.
      I look forward to when Sprint releases its interest in the technology and maybe a collective will license their technology To run a low margin, labor intensive business like an MVNO, like so many other MVNOs.

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    5. ItsOn is a privately held company that was founded in 2008 and has received 8 rounds of venture capital funding totalling over $40 million. To me that's a typical tech start up. I haven't seen any evidence that ItsOn has any customers besides Sprint. I suspect their exit strategy is to be acquired by Sprint.

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    6. You're making far too many assumptions about the typical prepaid customer, most of them simply unfounded and reading like sour grapes.

      Services like Ting, USMobile, Zact and the former Virgin Mobile Custom have their niche, but they would not appeal to the vast majority of prepaid customers and that was borne out by its failure in Walmart. Prepaid customers want peace of mind and easy to understand service plans. Ting and Zact might as well be Greek to someone looking for a flat monthly rate or a daily service plan.

      Also, ItsOn's agreement with Sprint is not an exclusive agreement, nor did Sprint purchase any assets related to ItsOn, all it signed was a conventional multi-year license to implement the technology into its network. It's likely that once the agreement runs out, the tech will either go away or someone else will license the platform.

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    7. "Matching or beating Tings rates would have given Ting a run for their money since you could micro manage your usage with Zact." and
      "Custom was failure because Sprint eviscerated the service by eliminating the micro tiers...and let it wither on the back racks at Walmart"
      Sometimes simplicity is better. Consumer Cellular (since 1995) and Ting have proved that you don't need "micro-tiers" to be successful. CC has over 1M customers now and is still growing, with the highest customer satisfaction in the industry. Ting is still growing very fast, and virtually tied CC in customer satisfaction in the Consumer Reports survey of 60k+ members. I believe that there is a large group of consumers who want to control their cellphone bills and only pay for what they need. CC and Ting satisfy those needs very well. Kajeet parental controls are another way to control costs, and they have been successful since 2003.

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    8. "The goal of most tech startups is to be acquired or license their technology not to run a low margin, labor intensive business like an MVNO."
      I agree, but the stated reason ItsOn started Zact was to SHOWCASE their technology so they could license or sell it to operators, not to run a "proof of concept." Any decision to sell exclusively to Sprint would have been based on the negotiation numbers and their alternatives. I am sure they would have had a 'Plan B.'

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    9. Hard to compare Ting to Zact because Zact did not offer BYOSD, had Zact offered BYOSD then the same users who are attracted to Ting would have had the additional option, it was Zact's Achilles heel. At minimum it would have pushed Ting to rethink their tiers to compete. My contention is not that Zact was was the one to forward the technology/model, it is that many other MVNOs could have, but Sprint now has the exclusive rights and subsequently eviscerated the service to a shell of what Zact or even VM Custom offered.
      CC only has their million customers because of the strength of AARP, their tiers are just like Ting's in that the steps are too steep and worse, they combine Text and Data allotment together in seemingly off hand amounts, very little thought in to those and gives the user no control over the management between the two, hardly a comparison to Ting or Zact. I would bet their core constituency is also only using minutes as my neighbors do. Their minutes also have a built in line fee of $8-$10 if you compare minutes to Ting.

      @ HSaabedra, again you do not know what you are talking about and you even contradict yourself in your post. No one else can license the Its On technology because Sprint DOES have the exclusive rights to it. I inquired about licensing it and Its On told me this.

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  11. I was not aware that Straight was limiting people to 100MB/Day and blocking streaming of Music now? Makes the Android, Windows phone, iPhone USELESS so other than the occasional Email, Facebook their service is a waste of time/money. I'll be telling my listeners to avoid Straight talk like the plague and go with something different. I was about to comment how Virgin Mobile is on the right track to allow unlimited streaming using Spotify. Now here in Elizabeth City, NC Virgin Mobile does not work on 4G and by the time you get to Hertford or south of Elizabeth City you can forget any service. Still more and more Straight Talk has become Straight Garbage.

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    1. It's not just Straight Talk. It's all the MVNO that América Móvil encompasses, to also include TracFone and Net10. They actually don't block streaming of music and videos, but they do PROHIBIT it in their Terms of Service. Also, I don't think the data shut-off after 100 MB of usage in one day is definite, but a trigger point. But yes, overall, definitely avoid the Straight Talk, TracFone, and Net10. They are not what they advertise to be. I tell my friends and family to avoid them like a plague. I always say to go with a T-Mobile or AT&T MVNO if at all possible, since they're on GSM.

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  12. Now that Virgin Custom is gone what happens to former Zact customers who converted to Virgin Custom?

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    1. Good question, I suspect Virgin Custom customers will be grandfathered somehow.

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  13. I agree with the earlier post that BYOD is key to success in prepaid. Market growth is slowing. BYOD is especially important on the Sprint network, since their phones usually can't be used on other networks and can be easily locked to one operator. Boost lost customers over the past several years and has just greatly expanded its BYOD lineup. Zact and Virgin Custom did not attract enough new customers. Republic is an exception because of its low-cost plans, but its growth was hampered in the beta stage due to lack of compelling phones.
    I would not be surprised to see Virgin allow BYOD in the future if Boost can significantly increase sales on BYOD phones.

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  14. The data roaming option is welcome, and rare in Virgin. But too much for too little data.

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  15. So they lowered how much data I get for 45$, down to 1gb, and then give walmart a special phone with a lower monthly and more data, and I have to buy a new phone to get this price? No thank you, it's expensive enough to start out on Virgin with a decent phone.

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