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Selectel Discontinuing Free Roaming Starting Tomorrow

Selectel message to dealers announcing the end of free voice roaming.
When it launched in 2013,Verizon MVNO Selectel Wireless shook up the prepaid industry by offering the signature feature of unlimited free off-network voice roaming. Until then other Verizon MVNOs and even Verizon Prepaid itself had either not offered voice roaming or else changed extra, typically 25 or 29 cents per minute for roaming calls. Free roaming got a Selectel a lot of attention and positive press and undoubtedly help them grow quickly.

Free roaming was Selectel's killer feature, but now they are doing away with it. In a message to dealers today, Selectel announced that starting tomorrow new activations and port-ins would be on the Verizon "prepaid platform", which does not include roaming. Roaming calls on the prepaid platform will cost 25¢ per minute. Customers who wish to make calls in roaming areas need to purchase a $10 Flex Card to cover the roaming charges. Click the image to read Selectel's message to dealers

Current Selectel customers will be migrated to the prepaid platform starting sometime in the next two weeks. According to Selectel, after migration 3G phones will require OTA programming and the customer will have to make a call to complete the process. Customers with LTE phones won't have to do anything.

Not only will roaming cost more on the prepaid platform but it will also be more cumbersome. On the postpaid platform placing a call while roaming is no different than making a non-roaming call. On the prepaid platform "double-dialing" is required. With double dialing, after placing a call from contacts or dialing a number you are prompted to dial the number again. That's a bit of a pain, especially when you don't remember a contact's actual phone number.

Roaming on Verizon is complicated. Everyone, prepaid, MVNO and postpaid alike can send and receive text messages at no extra cost while roaming. Postpaid, prepaid and MVNO customers with LTE phones also get no extra cost LTE data-only roaming on the 21 regional networks that participate in Verizon's LTE in Rural America (LRA) program. It gets really complicated with voice roaming. For postpaid customers, Verizon brands roaming as the "Verizon Extended Network"  and everything works just like it does on Verizon native coverage. On prepaid, the extended network becomes "Prepaid Roaming" where calls are not possible on some MVNOs and require double dialing and cost extra on others.

Back in January when Selectel first warned dealers that roaming was going away they said that the change would allow Selectel to offer more competitively priced plans. In the January announcement Selectel also said that they might offer users a small roaming credit. However today's message says nothing about more competitive plans or a roaming credit. That's not good as Selectel's plans, listed below, are generally more expensive than most other Verizon MVNOs.

Plan Duration LTE Available, LTE Devices Allowed? Voice Messaging Data
$15 30 Days No 300 Minutes 300 Texts 15 MB
$17 Home Connect 3 30 Days No 1000 Minutes none none
$20 30 Days Yes 500 Minutes 500 SMS 2.5 MB 1
$30 30 Days Yes 1500 Minutes Unlimited 1 GB
$40 30 Days Yes Unlimited Unlimited 2 GB
$55 30 Days Yes Unlimited Unlimited 5 GB
$70 30 Days Yes Unlimited Unlimited 7 GB
$75 Yearly Plan 365 Days No 2000 Minutes 2000 Texts None
$100 Yearly Plan 365 Days Yes 2000 Minutes 2000 Texts 2.5 MB 1
$10 Flex Card 2 Never Expires Yes 2 5¢/min 5¢/ea 5¢/MB
1 2.5 MB of LTE data can only be used for MMS messaging
2 The $10 Flex Card can be used to add additional data, minutes or texts to any plan except the $20 or $100 plans  at the rate of 5¢ per minute, message or MB of data. It's not a standalone plan and must be used together with a monthly or yearly plan. The Flex Card balance never expires.
3 The Home Connect plan is intended for fixed wireless home phone devices but also works with non-LTE mobile phones. A Flex card can be used to add texts, data or extra minutes.

The loss of roaming puts Selectel at a competitive disadvantage. Competitors like Ecomobile, Best Cellular, Boom Mobile and the various TracFone companies beat Selectel in value at most price points. For users who need the Verizon network with roaming, Boom Mobile plans even include voice and data roaming. Selectel never offered data roaming. Unless Selectel adds value to its plans to make up for the loss of roaming, I think they will have a hard time attracting and keeping customers.

27 comments:

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  1. Very satisfied Selectel customer here, but unless they do something with the plans, pronto, to offset this, I'm moving on to Boom.

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  2. The good thing that there are not a lot of areas within the US that Verizon don't reach, now saying this the company Selectel need to work on the offering prices since the goose that laid the golden egg is gone.

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    1. Agreed. I can live without the roaming, although it has been useful to me more than once. I did without free roaming before when I had Page Plus. But if you're taking the option away, you better sweeten the pot elsewhere, like with some more data. And they're on a short time leash with me, my renewal is coming up this week and I'm not going to do anything to stop that, but if nothing has changed in a couple of weeks or so, I'm out to Boom.

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    2. OMG. Punctuation and proofreading are your friends. I had to read that mess 3 times to figure out wth you're talking about.

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  3. Boom was the better value for a while now.

    Holdovers need to get with the times.

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    Replies
    1. Boom doesn't compete with Selectel on low-cost plans.
      Boom has very limited telephone support times and OLAM.

      Delete
    2. Selectel $20 plan. 500 Talk 500 Text 2.5mb.
      Boom $19.99 UT/UT 250mb.
      I think it's the other way around, Selectel doesn't compete with Boom on the low cost plans.

      Dale

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    3. Low cost plans seem to have disappeared. I admin several lines on boom! Mobile and they made a low use, pay go style plan for another line I wanted to bring over, not advertised, never know, can't hurt to ask, they have been very accommodating.

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  4. I use their $75 annual plan. I noticed a week ago that their $75 and $100 annual plans no longer appeared on their website. I checked again tonight and did not find them. Interesting.

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    Replies
    1. Dealers Bat Mobile Wireless and Freedom Wireless are still selling the Selectel annual plans.

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  5. I went with Selectel for the roaming, and the Flex card that doesn't expire. Also have a great dealer (BatMobile) to work with. Will wait to see the plan changes. Thanks Dennis for the timely updates.

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  6. So only after the migration is complete will "new plans and features" be added.
    This is really so much BS!
    Who in their right mind would subscribe to this crap until this so called migration is known and current subscribers had better well be able to "sidegrade" to any new plan when offered.

    I don't see Selectel offering anything better than what the many TF companies are offering, so I see this company spiraling down the the toilet and quick!

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    Replies
    1. Selectel's original MVNO contract was with Verizon Communications, parent of Verizon Wireless, back when Verizon Wireless was a joint venture with Vodaphone. They may be facing higher roaming costs after that contract's expiration. If so, they would have to choose among raising rates; operating at a lower margin and cutting costs like people and support; or dropping the roaming feature and improving plans. I think they made the right choice. They will lose some customers but gain even more if they offer better plans. Boom does not offer low-priced plans below $20, but Selectel needs better plans that offer more data to compete with other Vzw MVNOs.

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    2. "I see this company spiraling down the the toilet and quick!"
      This is the REAL BS.

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    3. Yeah, no little fly-by-night MVNO has ever gone out of business suddenly, during the past few years...

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  7. Is Sprint the only carrier that Verizon can roam onto?

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    Replies
    1. No, Verizon also roams on U.S. Cellular and about a dozen small regional operators.

      Delete
  8. The $75 and $100 Yearly Plans are still available. For some reason Selectel does not put them on their web site. Just use a dealer or call the customer service number listed on the web site. They can sell it to you.

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  9. $100 yearly is gone. $75 will be next. I look for Selectel to close up business in the next 6 months (or less).

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    Replies
    1. Post with a registered screen name so we can come back and mock you every month your wild guess falls flat.

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    2. "Post with a registered screen name so we can come back and mock you every month your wild guess falls flat."

      I am composing my witty reply on my phone on the PTEL carrier as we speak...

      Oh, wait.

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    3. You didn't predict Ptel would fail until after it happened. If you predict all MVNOs will fail "in the next 6 months (or less)" sooner or later you'll be right. Then you can do a victory dance cause you told us so (Anonymously, of course).

      Delete
  10. Just spoke to Boom, they say they no longer support roaming. Trying to get confirmation on this, but seems like it's dead.

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    Replies
    1. News to me. I think there's a strong possibility that whoever you spoke with at Boom was misinformed. Was it a CS rep?

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    2. I think they support use on the Verizon Extended network but this is not technically "roaming" in Verizon terminology.

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  11. I just spoke with the owner of Boom, and he confirmed that they no longer offer roaming on Verizon. He said the cost to them outweighed the number of customers that actually used roaming.

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