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T-Mobile to take GoSmart Mobile nationwide in February

It really is a time for prepaid at T-Mobile. Not only have they started offering their unlimited plans with no annual contract, they’ve been testing a new prepaid brand. We first heard of GoSmart Mobile in early December, and it appears we’ll hear a lot more about it in the next few weeks. According to FierceWireless, T-Mobile will take the brand national in February. Just as Boost Mobile and Virgin Mobile have no name-brand connection to Sprint, GoSmart will have the same relationship with T-Mobile. They will operate it, but as a secondary brand — in fact, they said that “certain T-Mobile plans may be prioritized over GoSmart Mobile plans during periods of congestion.” Plan details after the jump.

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6 Mobile Apps to Organize Your Life in 2013

I like to think of the following organizational apps as my own personal life coaches, financial planners, social planners, and all around handy lifesavers!

Not only do these seven apps provide vital organizational tools that rival even the best paid executive assistant—they do so for us average folks who can’t justify (or afford) an assistant of our own. However, what they do provide is valuable time and money saving tools to help keep track of appointments, contacts, notes and ideas, finances, and even shopping.

Kick off 2013 right with 7 mobile apps to help organize your life…

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GameStop now selling Net10 products

For the past month or so, Net10 products have been available at GameStop retail stores in select markets. Like most major retail programs, this one started small and unannounced before spreading wider. Yesterday GameStop announced the partnership. It goes well with their previous initiative of selling refurbished iPhones, iPods, and iPads. Customers can take advantage of Net10’s SIM cards, placing them in used iPhone devices purchased from GameStop. The SIM card plan pairs with Net10’s $50 unlimited talk, text, and data program. It is available now at GameStop locations nationwide.

This does come as interesting news, though, following the odd bit about Tracfone removing AT&T SIM cards from its BYOD program. Again, this is one to watch out for. It’s a bit too strange.

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Tracfone/Straight Talk/Net 10 removing AT&T offerings, including SIM

A strange development is afoot in the wireless world. According to a report on PhoneNews.com, America Movil brands Tracfone, Straight Talk, and Net10 have removed references to AT&T in its bring-your-own-device SIM card program. A visit to these websites does reveal that Straight Talk is offering BOYD support for CDMA devices, unlocked GSM devices, and T-Mobile branded devices, but not AT&T. No one from Tracfone or America Movil has made a statement, leaving much mystery. After all, the two companies have had close relations lately.

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New prepaid plans from Verizon on February 1

Verizon prepaid got with the times — somewhat — early last year when they announced a prepaid smartphone plan. Like most others it provided unlimited talk and text, but afforded users just 1GB of data for $80 per month, well above the market rate. They later doubled the data in a promotion that ends January 31. But the day after that they’ll introduce two new plans that will put them more in line with the competition. They’re still a bit more expensive, but these plans are much more palatable than the previous $80 plan.

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Straight Talk has no set data cap for iPhone users

If you read the user reviews of Straight Talk wireless service, you’ll see plenty of conflicting information. Some users claim that there is a 2GB cap on their unlimited data plan. Some claim that it’s even less — that they’ve been throttled after just a few days. When Straight Talk started offering the iPhone at Walmart outlets, the topic of throttling was sure to come up again. After all, iPhone 5 users consume huge amounts of data, and iPhone users in general are known for their data-heavy ways. That raises the question of how Straight Talk will deal with such a load on its resources.

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Virgin Mobile testing handset financing

In the long run, prepaid is almost always cheaper. We’ve learned that repeatedly in the last year or so when prepaid carriers started adding higher end smartphones. Perhaps the most illustrative example came when Cricket and then Virgin Mobile started offering the iPhone. The handset itself was much more expensive, but when combined with the monthly service costs and extrapolated over a two-year span, the prepaid carriers come out significantly less expensive. Still, customers can have issues coming up with that much money in a lump sum. The answer, for at least some carriers, has been handset financing.

Last month we learned that Cricket and MetroPCS started handset financing programs. Unlike T-Mobile’s financing plan, which allowed customers to split up the charge over the course of the contract — making it nearly identical to a subsidy — Cricket and MetroPCS customers have nine months to pay the balance. They are charged no interest in the handset is paid in full after three months. While this makes sense from the consumer side, not all prepaid carriers have jumped on board.

Virgin is currently giving the financing idea a shot, according to FierceWirless. Using the company BillFloat they’re offering financing plans on a number of handsets, including boith iPhone models and the Samsung Galaxy S II. For buyers of the latter, the charge is $59 up front and $49 per month for a year, bringing the total cost to an unimaginable $647 for a smartphone that is nearly two years old. Another carrier trying something similar, C Spire, charges iPhone customers $170.50 up front and $150 per month for 6 months, for a total of more than $1,000.

If financing is going to work, it can’t simply ream customers who need to spread their payments over time. Cricket has something decent going with its three-month financing plan. That makes the cost of the phone a bit easier to bear without imposing enormous fees on the user. But $650 for a two-year-old smartphone and more than $1,000 for an iPhone, whether financed or not, is simply ludicrous. The ability to spread payments over time is valuable, but not at the cost of this much overall money.

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Rhapsody now a $5 add-on with MetroPCS plans

There was something conspicuously absent last week when MetroPCS announced changes to the LTE plan lineup. Gone were not only some of the plans, but some of the features associated with the higher tiers. Specifically, there was no mention of the Rhapsody deal MetroPCS had previously offered to its $70 tier customers. Yesterday we got clarification on that point. Rhapsody is still available to MetroPCS customers, but it is not included standard with any tier. Instead it is available as a $5 add-on with any of its plans. That’s half price, which should make a good deal for any MetroPCS customer. Interested customers can sign up for Rhapsody through their accounts on MetroPCS’s website.

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Ting again offers to buy postpaid users out of contracts

If we’re to believe the flood of media reports that have surfaced in the last four or five months, consumers are starting to lean heavily towards prepaid services over their previous postpaid contracts. These are basically the same articles media outlets have written for years, only now they have some hard numbers to back these claims. Yes, consumers are opting for prepaid services now more than ever before. The only problem for prepaid carriers: many consumers are still locked in long-term contracts with postpaid carriers. Last May Ting, an MVNO of the Sprint network, tried a gambit: they bought out one postpaid contract every day for a month. Now they’re trying something a bit more dramatic.

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T-Mobile’s unlimited plan another step towards prepaid future

We see it every quarter: T-Mobile loses subscribers on the whole, almost all of them coming from the contract side of the business. Those losses would seem much steeper if T-Mobile weren’t adding significant numbers of prepaid customers every quarter. For the past two years consumers have been going with T-Mobile’s stable of no annual contract plans, rather than committing. After seeming attempts to fight the shift with competitively priced postpaid plans, it appears that T-Mobile has finally embraced the move to prepaid. Not only did they agree to a merger with prepaid carrier MetroPCS, but they have also made prepaid concessions with their own plans. Last week they took one big step into the prepaid future.

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