Verizon announced that its Straight Talk Home Internet service will be available exclusively at Walmart.
Straight Talk has long been associated with Walmart, where it gets more display space than other brands and it’s not sold in other big box stores. Verizon acquired Straight Talk through its more than $6 billion purchase of TracFone Wireless last year. Of TracFone's 20 million customers, Straight Talk accounted for about half, or 9.5 million.
The Straight Talk Home Internet service is a prepaid, no contract and no credit check service.
“Offering more choices that meet the needs of value-conscious consumers – both inside and outside of the home – is a critical component of our strategy to serve the entire market,” said Verizon Consumer Group CEO Manon Brouillette in a statement. “Straight Talk Home Internet offers an incredible value: reliable fixed wireless internet service anchored by Verizon, with the flexibility and affordability of no-contracts, brought to the masses by the scale of Walmart via an easy, grab-and-go format.”
Consumers can expect data speeds up to 100 Mbps on 5G or 50 Mbps on 4G LTE and Wi-Fi 6 Dual-band. The self-installable router costs $99 and service is $45/month.
Jeff Moore, principal of Wave7 Research, said his firm had seen the launch coming and spotted end caps popping up in stores, including one a week ago in a Kansas City, Kansas, Walmart that was still packaged in cardboard.
“This is a big deal,” Moore said. The $45/month price point “strikes me as affordable,” he said, noting that, in typical Walmart fashion, it slightly undercuts $50 internet service deals available at rivals like Metro by T-Mobile.
Straight Talk’s Home Internet will be available in nearly 2,000 Walmart stores. Moore said there are about 3,600 Walmart super centers, so the majority of stores will carry it. It also coincides with Verizon’s aggressive rollout of C-band spectrum.
A Verizon spokesperson confirmed that customers will either be on 4G LTE or 5G supported by C-band, which, along with millimeter wave spectrum, falls under Verizon’s Ultra Wideband moniker.
That makes sense, considering that Verizon dropped more than $45 billon on C-band spectrum and it needs to monetize that deployment, Moore said. He also said that he’s not hearing that Verizon is asking for an exact address – only a ZIP code.
Moore said it’s his guess that most of the ZIP codes where this service is available are areas where C-band has been deployed.
One thing he’s watching to see is whether other Verizon prepaid brands, like Total by Verizon or Simple Mobile, will start offering a home internet service.