T-Mobile MVNO PTel Mobile quietly shuts down after 15 years

PTel Mobile has quietly closed its doors after 15 years in business, according to its site.

The prepaid MVNO had run on T-Mobile's network and offered six no-contract plans in addition to an a la carte, pay-as-you go service. The cheapest monthly plan included unlimited talk and text as well as 250 MB of data for $20 a month, while the most expensive included unlimited talk, text and data on T-Mobile's LTE network for $60 a month, although users who consumed more than 10 GB in a month had their connection speeds slowed.

Interestingly, PTel also offered unlimited talk, text and data over 2G for $25 per month. PTel also operated the Giv Mobile brand.

PTel launched on Cingular's TDMA network when prepaid was a wide-open space, but the market has become much more competitive during the past five years as MVNOs and the network operators themselves became involved in price wars. The race to the bottom escalated as the market consolidated due to acquisitions such as AT&T's pick up of Cricket Wireless and T-Mobile's buyout of MetroPCS.

The competition ultimately proved insurmountable for PTel, which was forced to lower its prices in recent years in an effort to survive. The MVNO reduced its prices in early 2013 after leaving Sprint for T-Mobile in a move aimed at expanding its handset options and cutting costs. And it tweaked its plans again in 2014, lowering the price of its unlimited talk, text and slow-speed data offering.

A former PTel executive said he couldn't comment on the demise of the MVNO.

Former PTel customers must port their numbers before Feb. 5 or risk losing them, and both Ting and T-Mobile are courting those users. Ting, an MVNO that runs on Sprint's network, is offering a $75 credit to former PTel users who switch. T-Mobile is offering a free SIM starter kit and a free month of service to users who move to the carrier.

PTel isn't the only MVNO to discontinue service in recent months. Fellow T-Mobile MVNO Solavei shut down its service late last year.

For more:
- see this PTel page

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