Announced at the CTIA Wireless trade show in Las Vegas yesterday, a new wireless company called Zer01 Communications offers the entire connectivity package–unlimited calls and data–in one package, starting at only $69.95 a month. The solution could attract lots of interest if the ongoing economic recession forces people to re-examine how much they’re paying for utilities such as phone service.
PCMag.com broke the story last month after talking with ZER01 CEO Ben Piilani. According to Zer01, “using proprietary technology and infrastructure as never before, it can provide affordable, unlimited mobile service.” But Zer01 isn’t really a wireless carrier. It’s really a VoIP company that piggybacks on top of traditional networks such as AT&T, as PCMag.com reported.
Unlike most U.S. carriers, Zer01 doesn’t do contracts–service is pay-as-you-go. But unlike other pre-paid plans, which typically charge you by the minute or kilobyte, Zer0 says that its domestic plan includes ‘unlimited minutes, any time from anywhere in the continental U.S.A and Canada,’ for $69.95 per month, while its international offer, for $10 more, includes the domestic service. For its international connectivity, the company claims partners, in South America, Europe, Asia, and elsewhere. But it has kept the names of its domestic and international partners secret so far.
Despite Zer01’s claim of “no other fees and taxes,” there is also a one-time, $30 activation fee, and parental controls are available for an extra $4.99 a month. So the subscriber’s first payment is at least $99.95.
It remains to be seen just how reliable Zer01’s VoIP is. If there are problems, customers might regret having chosen to pre-pay for Zer01’s service.
If a subscriber doesn’t already have an unlocked GSM phone to use with Zer01, he or she can buy one from Zer01: Options include HTC’s TyTN II (also sold by AT&T as the Tilt), Touch 3G, and Diamond, and Pharos’s Traveler 117 and Traveler 127. It hasn’t yet set prices for any of these models. It also sells various other optional services and accessories, such as a two-year protection plan for the HTC TyTN II for $69, a battery charger for $29.99, and a Bluethooth headset for $79.99.