Defense Mobile is a unique prepaid MVNO that is available only to active duty military personnel, veterans and their families.
Originally a Sprint MVNO when it launched in 2013, Defense Mobile currently offers service on the AT&T and Sprint networks and plans to add Verizon based service in August. The Sprint based service includes off-network voice, messaging and data roaming. There's no roaming on the AT&T platform. According to Defense Mobile, 90% of their customers are on AT&T.
Proof of military service is required to become a Defense Mobile customer. The company gives back to the military and veterans community in several ways. It only hires veterans for its US based customer support and donates 10% of its profits to veterans service organizations. Defense Mobile customers get a several free perks including a service related email address (...@armymobile.com, ...@navymobile.com etc.) and a smartphone app called MILISOURCE that helps veterans find and use all the services and benefits they are eligible for. The Defense Mobile's Board of Directors and Advisors includes a former chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, two of the longest serving Navy SEALS, five FLAG Officers and a former Assistant Secretary of the Air Force.
Defense Mobile offers both individual and family plans.
Defense Mobile Individual Plans
|Plan||Monthly Cost 1||Voice||Messages||Data|
Denense Mobile Family Plans
|Plan||Monthly Cost 1||Lines||Voice||Messages||Data (Shared)|
Defense Mobile supports BYOP (Bring Your Own Phone) for both Sprint and AT&T network compatible devices. There are no activation fees and SIMs are 99¢ each when purchased with a plan. Defense Mobile also sells a variety of phones ranging from a $29.99 flip phone to flagships like the iPhone 6 and 6 Plus and the Samsung Galaxy S5.
When comparing Defense Mobile prices with other operators you need to take into taxes into account. Unlike most prepaid operators, Defense Mobile adds postpaid style taxes and fees of 10-30% to plan prices. Taxes vary by state and city and include the usual sales taxes plus pass-throughs of regulatory surcharges and fees that Defense Mobile is required to pay. With a San Francisco, CA billing address I was quoted $9.16 in taxes and fees on the $30 plan. Neither California or San Francisco charge any point of sale taxes on prepaid airtime so these are all provider-level telecom taxes that Defense Mobile is passing on. In contrast, California users pay no taxes or fees on Boost Mobile, MetroPCS, Cricket or T-Mobile prepaid services.
Defense Mobile accepts credit and debit card for payments online. Auto pay is available. Defense Mobile dealers (find a dealer) also accept cash payments.