AT&T today rolled out several new prepaid add-ons for GoPhone Pay As You Go customers. These new plans, called Feature Packs, are refreshing new additions to a prepaid market that has resisted focusing on data, messaging, and large airtime options.
The first option is in regards to Media Net data service. Customers can add 1 MB ($4.99) or 5 MB ($9.99) options, which when used up, will revert to the standard $.01/KB rate. Messaging add-ons come in 200 SMS messages ($4.99) and 3,000 SMS messages ($19.99). Finally, users can also add 3,000 night & weekend minutes for $19.99. However, the night & weekend option requires Pay As You Go customers to select the $1/day plan (as opposed to the $.25/minute flat rate plan).
All Feature Packs expire 30 days after being added to an account. However, if a customer re-adds the Feature Pack, the expiration date is reset, and the unused balance simply rolls over to the new expiration date. A user who has only used 2 MB of a 5 MB allowance can roll it over upon re-adding the 5 MB Feature Pack, then giving them 7 MB of data.
In addition, the charges are all deducted from your account balance. This is a good option for users who rarely use their GoPhone for voice, as it allows them to spend the ever-increasing account balance on data and messaging.
Here’s how it works. You call 611 and will be given an option to add feature packs. You then pick your Feature Pack, and it is then added to your account. To roll over the remaining balance (either data, unused messages, or night & weekend minutes), you simply need to re-add the feature pack before the 30 day expiration hits.
As we editorialized, AT&T appears to have done this, at least in part, for Apple’s iPhone. Now, GoPhone Pay as You Go customers have an afforable option for data with devices such as iPhone. While 5 MB may seem small, iPhone can operate with very little data with Safari in text-only mode, and Apple’s Widgets only require a few kilobytes of data to load content-rich widgets. Finally, with rollover, unused data can roll over to the next month, so long as the customer calls in once a month to re-add the add-on.
While the add-on breakdown may seem confusing, it’s partially done that way on purpose. AT&T wants to make it much easier for prepaid customers to switch to a standard account, a customer that wants to stay with just prepaid (while gaining the benefits of affordable data, airtime, and messaging) can now do so. For devices like iPhone, this allows users to start off on a prepaid account, take advantage of data services, and decide if they want to switch to a standard account.