TracFone Wireless (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
WalMart sells phones, landline and mobile. WalMart sells phone services, both mobile and landline, and I'm not saying they are the operator, but they are bringing out with consistency, services that provide an option to the traditional phone company or mobile operator.
First up, is StraightTalk, which for $45.00 a month offers you unlimited wireless voice, text and data, and runs over your choice of T-Mobile, AT&T or Verizon Wireless depending on your device. This is a all brought to you by the same people who make Tracfone available, Carlos Slim and American Moviles, the runaway market leader in Mexico.
Now WalMart is the featured merchant for Vonage's new offering, BasicTalk, a $9.99 a month service that bascially is an ATA that connects your existing phones, the same way Vonage does, but at a mass market price.
This is a real shift in where consumers obtain their basic communications services and demonstrates that WalMart is able to productize and merchandise better than many others who failed, including Staples and BestBuy both of whom have had many chances first to sell phone services. BestBuy prevously owned, and jettisoned Speakeasy, putting it into what is now Megapath as part of a Covad roll up play. Basically, BestBuy's purchase of SpeakEasy's DSL and phone service was supposed to drive even more installations by the GeekSquad and add-on hardware like routers, switches and cables. Staples has had multiple shots at VoIP dating back to being offered services like AT&T CallVantage, PhoneGnome, IDT and many others, but neither BestBuy or Staples ever put the kind of effort, or had the clout, to make them the go to source for phone service. And they could have.
WalMart is know for everyday low prices, and now they are offering everyday low price phone service.
-- Andy Abramson