The service, called Wal-Mart Family Mobile, will run on T-Mobile USA's network and will cost $45 per month for unlimited voice and texting; additional lines can be added for $25 per month. Interestingly, there is also a prepaid component to the plan: Users who want mobile data can pay into a prepaid account that can be pooled for an entire family. According to the AP, 1 GB of data usage will cost $40.
Importantly, Wal-Mart's plan does not have a contract for customers to sign or come with early-termination fees. However, phones for the offering will be locked to Wal-Mart's service and will not be able to work on other networks or even under a T-Mobile plan.
Beginning Monday, Wal-Mart will start selling the service with five phones, including the Android-powered Motorola
Wal-Mart is working to distinguish this new service from other wireless plans it has been offering. Since 2009, Wal-Mart has been selling TracFone's Straight Talk service. Straight Talk, a prepaid unlimited service, offers users unlimited talk, texting and mobile Web access for $45 per month. Verizon
Greg Hall, vice president of merchandising at Wal-Mart U.S., told the AP that by providing a postpaid service Wal-Mart hopes to overcome the perception that prepaid services do not offer the best phones, including smartphones. (Straight Talk does not offer smartphones.)
"What we saw was an opening in the marketplace for really bringing family savings and a family plan and T-Mobile was a great partner there," Hall told the AP.