AT&T has recently updated its prepaid GoPhone plans to look more like T-Mobile’s no-contract plans. Before the update, GoPhone was designed mainly for short-term customers, such as visitors to the U.S. Plans used to be more expensive for less and the GoPhone network was limited to 3G. Now, GoPhone includes AT&T’s 4G LTE network and competitive plan pricing.
The GoPhone updates were released under the radar without much media outreach. This might seem unusual, especially since the plans appear to compete against T-Mobile’s popular no-contract plans. One explanation could be that, until there is high enough demand, AT&T is letting T-Mobile do all the work to raise consumer awareness towards no-contract plans.
Check out AT&T’s new GoPhone plans here and at attnocontract.com:
Another explanation for the absent publicity is that GoPhone comes with a vastly inferior phone catalog compared to AT&T’s regular 2-year contract offerings. However, you can (and should) buy your own unlocked device straight from the manufacturer, just make sure it’s compatible with AT&T’s GSM network. Also, according to an AT&T representative, those of us using GoPhone plans have slightly reduced network coverage compared to AT&T’s regular network. Apparently, the difference is more noticeable in the West Coast than it is on the East. Being an East Coast customer myself, I can’t tell the difference.
Oddly enough, the GoPhone updates compete against AT&T’s existing no-contract brand called Aio Wireless. Admittedly, Aio is only available in Florida and Texas at the moment, yet is said to expand nationwide in the coming weeks. Perhaps AT&T is concerned that consumers won’t immediately associate Aio with AT&T’s network coverage.
Apart from nationwide availability, the only perceivable difference between AT&T’s and Aio’s 2GB data with unlimited talk/text plan is $5; Aio being the cheaper option. Both Aio and GoPhone charge a flat-rate, tax-included monthly bill. Under the hood, however, Aio charges a $25 activation fee whilst AT&T does not for signing up to GoPhone.