Thanks to some pressure from the pending T-Mobile merger, all four major carriers in the United States now have unlimited plans. Sure, they’re expensive and come with a ton of caveats, but customers seem to love them very much. The first caveat, of course, is the fact that they’re not truly unlimited. No surprise there, though. That said, Verizon’s main unlimited plan is $85 for the first line. That’s a lot of money to spend on your phone bill, regardless of how you look at it, but that’s why they have started funding a start-up that offers a more restricted unlimited plan for just $40. That plan includes calls and text messages.
The company is called Visible. Ironic, isn’t it? This company has been almost completely off-the-radar since launching earlier this year. Yes, that’s right – 5 months ago. Visible is geared towards younger users, and the whole idea is about simplicity. You have to download an iOS app in order to sign up as well as get an invite code to be able to join. Sounds elitist, but it’s really not. You can get a code from another member, or just put yourself on the waitlist.
Once you get a code and sign up, Visible will send you a SIM, and you’re good to go. You can even pay with PayPal or Venmo, reinforcing the notion that this is definitely a service for younger people. It doesn’t have the same credit applications or complicated sign-on procedure as a postpaid account and seems designed to compete with the likes of Google’s Project Fi or the increasingly popular prepaid carriers like Boost or MetroPCS.
This is great news, isn’t it? I mean, this is giving young people an affordable option when it comes to a cell phone provider. It is good news, but there’s one major problem with Visible. Even though it uses Verizon’s amazing 4G LTE network, users are permanently throttled to 5Mbps. My first thought is “eeek”. But it’s not that slow. It’s still fast enough to stream or use apps, but it’s a long way off from the 100 Mbps and greater speeds that you can get in other areas. It’s also thought that maybe you would be “de-prioritized” when the network is busy. Because there are other customers who are paying more, they’re going to likely get first dibs on those faster speeds.
Is this a good alternative though? I kind of think so. I mean, if you’re not using your phone to watch TV, or stream movies, then this might be all you need. I’m not saying this is a great option, but perhaps for someone who doesn’t use their phone 24/7, or for younger people whose parents want them to have a phone. Even with the caveats, $40 a month for unlimited data, calling and texts is kind of a great deal. Maybe the most surprising thing about it is that Verizon is funding the company. And this might be why they’ve been quiet about the company to start with – they want to analyze whether they’re losing customers from Verizon or gaining customers from their competitors.