/// New School of Prepaid Carriers Offer Great Deals — With Drawbacks
Prepaid carriers can offer an affordable alternative to traditional smartphone contracts. You pay more for your handset up front, but in return, they offer savings on voice and data plans and free you from a long-term contract. Virgin Mobile, MetroPCS and U.S. Cellular are some of the more established and well-known prepaid carriers. But recently, several companies have launched new competitors that offer aggressive pricing on prepaid smartphone plans using a different approach. [ See post to watch video ] This past week, I tested two of those services: Republic Wireless and Solavei . Republic Wireless offers unlimited voice, text and data for just $19 a month and uses Sprint’s 3G network. To keep costs low, the carrier relies on the customer to use Wi-Fi for most of their calls and data, but doesn’t force you to do so. Meanwhile, Solavei uses T-Mobile’s network and offers a $49 per month unlimited plan, with the opportunity to make money by recruiting new customers. They are enticing deals, no doubt, but both have issues that prevent me from recommending them over the competition. Republic Wireless has a smartphone plan that almost seems too good to be true at $19 for unlimited everything. There are no hidden fees, but there are limitations. The first is handset selection. Currently, the carrier only offers the Motorola Defy XT . It costs $259 and includes a one-time $10 start-up fee. To take advantage of Republic’s service, the smartphone is capable of making calls over a Wi-Fi connection and Sprint’s cellular 3G network.
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New School of Prepaid Carriers Offer Great Deals — With Drawbacks