MVNO Simple Mobile revamps plans

Simple Mobile, a fledgling MVNO that has been operating since November, refreshed its unlimited plans, and said it is taking slow but steady steps toward growth.

The MVNO laid out three new pay-as-you-go plans: $40 for unlimited voice and texting; $50 for unlimited voice and texting and 50 MB of data use; and $60 for unlimited voice, texting, 150 MB of data and national 3G coverage. The offerings align relatively closely with the services from competing flat-rate players like TracFone, Boost Mobile, Leap Wireless and MetroPCS.

Simple Mobile, which runs on a bring-your-own-phone model, rents out a national GSM network for its service. In an interview with FierceWireless, Richard Wong, Simple Mobile's vice president of strategic alliances, did not say which carrier the MVNO is working with, but pointedly said it is not AT&T Mobility. "So most people can go ahead and do the math," he said, apparently confirming T-Mobile USA as the MVNO's network provider. (T-Mobile is the only other national GSM carrier; Verizon Wireless and Sprint Nextel operate CDMA networks.) A T-Mobile spokeswoman did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Under Simple Mobile's business model, customers can add the MVNO's service to any unlocked GSM phone, of which there are hundreds for sale via manufacturers, retailers and Internet sites. Customers can call Simple Mobile's customer care--which the firm outsources--to get help activating their service. Customers also can have their existing number ported over to the service, Wong said.

Simple Mobile supports more than 180 different handsets. One of the big differences between Simple Mobile and other, failed MVNOs, Wong said, is that the company does not subsidize handsets and is not involved in handset logistics. "Our cost structure is markedly different because of that one factor alone," he said.

Wong said the company is privately held, but declined to be more specific about the firm's management or funding sources. He said Simple Mobile will exhibit at the CTIA Wireless trade show in Las Vegas in March, and said he hoped to be able to reveal more details at that time. Wong said the company, which is based in Irvine, Calif., has around 15 full-time employees, many of whom have years of experience at Sprint Nextel, Boost Mobile, and MVNO Amp'd Mobile (which folded in 2007).

Wong did not say how many customers Simple Mobile has signed up, but noted: "We're doing better substantially better than Helio or Amp'd ever did--much sooner, much faster."

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