Tracfone has opened a webpage for Net10 customers centering on forthcoming changes to its data service for customers using AT&T powered devices and BYOD SIM cards. As of March 1st, Net10 customers using an AT&T-powered SIM card on its BYOD service or an AT&T-powered device will now be capped to a monthly limit of 1.5GB. Should customers hit the 1.5GB before the end of the monthly service cycle, data service will be disabled until the end of the service period and another month of service is purchased, resetting the cap.
This latest change to Net10′s service on AT&T-powered SIM cards follows larger overall changes made in January, as Tracfone is transitioning away from AT&T service to T-Mobile for BYOD service, owing to that carrier’s more lenient stance on data access compared to AT&T, with AT&T pulling BYOD support across all of Tracfone’s brands for as yet unknown reasons.
In a bit of a PR move, Net10 is offering the customers affected by this move the chance to swap SIM cards from AT&T SIMs to T-Mobile SIMs which do not feature a data cap of any kind, as T-Mobile prominently encourages unlimited data access on its network as a key advertising bullet point.
Currently, Tracfone is still offering AT&T devices in select markets and through Walmart via StraightTalk and Net10, though Walmart has now completely sold out of AT&T compatible SIM cards from both brands, having cleared through its entire stock within the past month and a half and the listings are stating being sold out, at least online.
As Tracfone is now hedging its short-term bets with T-Mobile and Verizon for BYOD and the iPhone respectively, one has to wonder what AT&T plans to do, as AT&T holds a sizable stake in Tracfone parent America Movil, yet is seemingly refusing to provide continuing access to its network without increasingly stringent access rules and possibly increased rates for data access, forcing Tracfone to make these changes.
While America Movil is remaining quiet about the situation, it remains to be seen whether StraightTalk will follow suit regarding the data cap, as it was initially rumored that StraightTalk would be relaunching an overhauled online portal this week along with reconfigured service plans, only to launch a new Verizon-powered smartphone instead with none of the other rumored changes, which included AT&T SIMs with provisioning for LTE and a $45 plan with a clearly defined monthly data cap along with a revamped $30 plan with 500MB of data access.
However, as Net10 has launched its own portal detailing the changes to data access going forward, evidence is mounting that StraightTalk may do the same, as the StraightTalk Data domain has also been reserved, but has not been populated.
Should the changes apply to StraightTalk as well, it’s best to hope that ST follows Net10′s example and provides complimentary T-Mobile SIMs for those that don’t want to deal with the new cap, but given ST’s history, it’s best to make plans to switch to a Verizon-powered device or a T-Mobile compatible phone to use with a new BYOD SIM for unlimited data in order to avoid the new limitations.
Update: PhoneNews.com has received a statement from Net10′s PR agency, confirming that the changes to Net10′s AT&T SIMs only affect Net10 Wireless and do not affect any other Tracfone brand, including StraightTalk and Telcel America. The full statement follows below, rendering the previous paragraph invalid, hence it being struck out.
This data plan change for NET10’s ”Bring Your Own Phone” (BYOP) AT&T compatible SIM does NOT affect any other NET10 service or TracFone brand, including Straight Talk Wireless.