prepaid

T-Mobile has announced today that it has overtaken Sprint to be the largest prepaid service provider in the U.S., with a total of 15.64 million prepaid subscribers on the network. That's dramatically past the other big rivals AT&T and Verizon also, who have 11.34 and 6.04 million prepaid customers, respectively — and T-Mobile shows no signs of slowing down.

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Pre-paid plans are becoming a more-and-more viable option these days, especially if carriers continue to make improvements like Verizon has just done with the introduction of their new "ALLSET PLANS" (no more all-caps from here on out, mkay). These new plans start at $35-a-month for basic phones, but if you're smart and opt for a smartphone, it starts at a mere $45-a-month.

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When it’s time to recharge a prepaid phone in India, there are so many deals and offers that may be overwhelming to track down. Thanks to iReff, it’s a little easier for Windows Phone users. Their app, which has just arrived at the Windows Phone Store, maintains a list of the latest recharge plans and offers from various operators. You can find details about Topup Vouchers, Special Tariff Vouchers (STV), Combo Vouchers and Full Talk Time offers.

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Huawei is throwing their hat into the US Windows Phone 8 market with their W1 smartphone, known in other parts of the world as the Ascend W1. The snazzy W1 will be coming to Walmarts across the country as a pre-paid, no-contract offering that will be priced "competitively," though no exact numbers were revealed.

Huawei’s Michael Chuang said in a statement. “The Huawei W1 brings consumers a truly compelling alternative to what’s currently in the marketplace."

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Walmart is offering the Lumia 710 at a low price of just $269 on a prepaid agreement. Like all prepaid (or PAYG - Pay As You Go) plans, the no-commitment usage of a feature rich smartphone appeals to many and with Windows Phone 8 hardware on the horizon, it may prove to be a good move to take up such an agreement while waiting for what's next from manufacturers and Microsoft.

The Lumia 710 on offer is the white version with a black clip-on case. Walmart has beaten both T-Mobile and Best Buy's pricing by $30, which is certainly something to consider. With the low-end hardware from Nokia and other OEMs, Windows Phones can take advantage of prepaid plans at lower pricing levels.

Interestingly, the Lumia 710 (white and black) are the #3 and #4 top-selling 4G phones on T-Mobile which backs up previous statements from Nokia and T-Mo that the phones are still selling.

Head on over to Walmart's website to check if your local store has stock.

Source: Walmart; thanks, Robert, for the heads up!

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The low-cost Nokia Lumia 710 on prepaid

We haven't followed the whole pre-paid plan scene as much as we probably should here at Windows Phone Central. Blame it on our contract-centric culture but for a lot of folks, prepaid plans are brilliant--low cost and no commitment with a contract is a great idea for many (especially if you're holding off for Windows Phone 8 this fall).

Best Buy who's no stranger to the mobile phone biz is now offering the Nokia Lumia 710 (see review) for $299. That's actually $50 more than what T-Mobile sells it for ($249.99) but you do get the brick-n-mortar presentation and perhaps a few impulse buys. 

Either way, it's good to see Windows Phone joining the popular Android devices on prepaid plans, especially the 710 which is a fantastic starter-phone. For those on AT&T, however, there's no such luck despite the carrier having the largest Windows Phone selection around.

Thanks, @cagmanthing/Manny, for the photo

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While we know some new AT&T phones are right around the corner and that the original Focus is on its way out (EOL), it's still a bit interesting to see it get sold out. Part of that may because it's priced so low now and lets face it, with Mango on board is still a pretty amazing phone. What's odd is usually we get a "out of stock" for region and perhaps it's just the New York Metro area and not nationwide. But even still, that's a big market.

And we're not sure if this has always been there or is something new, but the HD7 and Focus are both available for prepaid "Go Plans" on AT&T. You basically buy the phone full price but then pay just $50 month to month (voice and text only). Not bad for someone who doesn't want a full contract.

Thanks, Theo and Juan, for the tips!

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Sprint purchases Virgin Mobile USA

Sprint this morning announced it was gobbling up Virgin Mobile USA in a deal worth $483 million. That includes the 13.1 percent of Virgin Mobile USA that Sprint already owned. The deal is expected to bolster Sprint's end of the prepaid market, which already includes Boost Mobile.

Said Sprint CEO Dan Hesse:

“The acquisition of Virgin Mobile USA positions Sprint for even greater success in the prepaid wireless segment. Prepaid is growing at an unprecedented rate with consumers keenly focused on value. Virgin Mobile is an iconic brand in the marketplace that will complement our Boost Mobile brand.”

Full presser after the break.

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