While many people on Straight Talk are currently enjoying LTE access either through AT&T or Sprint (and soon through T-Mobile) after recent service expansions this year, Straight Talk is set to expand to add yet another service to its growing portfolio, as the brand is preparing to roll out mobile broadband service, powered by Verizon Wireless, with a slight catch.
First, some context:
Since as far back as April, rumors have been building steam that Verizon was preparing to open up 4G LTE access to MVNOs. Such access would mean that Verizon would open up to virtual operators even further than it currently does, though such rumors have yet to pan out despite continuing assurances that LTE access is coming for select devices already on Straight Talk, such as the Galaxy S III and the iPhone 5. These rumors were thought to be shut down with statements from CTO Fran Shammo this past Summer limiting LTE network access to postpaid customers.
If the latest developments are any indication, opening up mobile broadband service and support to Straight Talk on Verizon’s 3G network first may in fact be a way to judge whether it can handle the additional increase in data users, especially given recent revelations regarding LTE network strain and congestion, which has forced Verizon to roll out LTE service on a different band in order to relieve congestion and increasing capacity issues in select markets. The issues have also seen it rush to purchase as much free AWS spectrum as it can find for nationwide coverage depth to approximate current 700 Mhz band coverage.
Back to the mobile broadband service, it will work by offering the following slate of service plans, taken from Straight Talk’s portal:
Straight Talk will offer the UNIMAX U240C Wi-Fi router/modem unit, though the unit will only support one device connected at a time and will be a Rev A. only unit. Select Walmart locations are now reserving shelf space for the prepaid cards needed for the service and a recent picture is posted below, with a render of the hotspot following it:
Update: The Unimax Hotspot will cost $79.99 in Walmart locations with no immediate word on launch date.