Aio Wireless is AT&T’s answer to T-Mobile’s popular Simple Choice plans in the form of a new brand and service. It works off AT&T’s nationwide network (4G/LTE included) but you can only purchase plans from stores and online if you live in Jacksonville, Orlando, Gainesville, Tampa, Naples or Ft. Myers in Florida, or Houston, Texas. Aio service is set to expand nationwide in the coming weeks.
Plans are similarly priced to T-Mobile’s Simple Choice plans. Here’s a comparison of the common 2GB data plans on Aio vs T-Mobile:
So far, it seems as if Aio might actually be the better deal, especially as it works off AT&T’s extensive network. However, there are some considerable differences between the no-contract carriers. Like T-Mobile, you can bring your own device, but the Aio phone store is comparatively limited for now. Unlike T-Mobile, Aio has no monthly device payment options to pay for new phones; full price upfront only (also for now). Also, Aio charges a $25 activation fee whereas T-Mobile does not. Despite this, Aio is still cheaper as the $5/month it saves you pays off the activation fee in 5 months.
Those of us who don’t call Florida or Texas home will have to wait and see how well Aio actually works, including its customer service. If you can’t wait and you have friends in Texas or Florida, do like this man from Alaska. He ordered his Aio plan and sim card to a friend’s address in Texas who then forwarded the Aio package up to Alaska. It seems to work and the customer service appears to be excellent!
Whichever no-contract plan you go for, this is a clear indication that cell carriers are shifting towards more transparency. Basically, pay full cost for devices (up-front or in clearly defined payment plans) in exchange for a much lower monthly phone bill.