TracFone's Net10 quietly adds family plans to the mix

Net10, one of the prepaid wireless brands operated by América Móvil's U.S. MVNO TracFone, has quietly started offering family plans, according to research firm Current Analysis.

"We confirmed these plans earlier this month through Net10's customer care," wrote Current Analysis' Jamie Huff in response to questions from FierceWireless. "The plans are not available online at this time and we have not seen them on Target's website either."

Huff said Net10's family plans are available for up to four users. The options include two lines for $90 per month, three lines for $130 per month and four lines for $170 per month. Users get unlimited nationwide calling, messaging, Web access (for feature phones and smartphones) and calls to 411.

Net10 is one of a handful of prepaid wireless brands offered by TracFone, which is the nation's largest MVNO with more than 20 million subscribers. TracFone resells service from all the major wireless carriers, including Verizon Wireless (NYSE:VZ), AT&T Mobility (NYSE:T), Sprint Nextel (NYSE:S) and T-Mobile USA. It's unclear whether TracFone will expand its family plan options to its other brands such as Straight Talk; a TracFone spokesperson did not immediately respond to questions on the topic.

While most prepaid wireless carriers and MVNOs primarily focus on providing service on an individual (and often unlimited) basis, a few have delved into family plan options. For example, Walmart's Family Mobile service, which launched in 2010 over the T-Mobile network, offers unlimited talk, text and Web (for feature phones) for $80 per month for two people and ranges up to $185 per month for five people. And Ting, a Sprint MVNO, offers a shared usage option that allows families to share minutes, messages and data.

Of course, the major postpaid wireless carriers like Verizon and AT&T have long offered family plans that allow users can share a bucket of minutes. Further, Verizon and AT&T earlier this year launched shared data plans that provide unlimited talking and texting with a data allotment that can be shared among different family members or different devices held by one user.

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Article updated Oct. 26 to include information about Net10's support for smartphones.