AT&T Soft-Launches New Prepaid Service, Aio

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Trying to understand what’s actually in a cell-phone contract can get a little hairy, but consumers in Orlando, Tampa and Houston won’t have to bother now that AT&T has launched its new, prepaid wireless phone service, Aio.

There is no annual contract involved in the new plan, which AT&T plans to roll it nationwide in mid-June, according to Fierce Markets. 

According to AT&T’s press release, the brand name (pronounced as a cheery “A-O”) “encapsulates Aio’s brand promise: simply, delightfully, more.”

“We talked with no-annual-contract customers and created our service around what they want. They want simple, easy plan choices with unlimited offers; first-class service at affordable prices; great devices; nationwide voice and data coverage; and no annual contracts. Today’s wireless customers don’t want to compromise,” stated Jennifer Van Buskirk, president of Aio Wireless. “We are set up to win over value-conscious customers who are increasingly moving towards smartphones and mobile broadband.”[more]

Aio features three simple rate plans and a variety of smartphones, including the iPhone 5, and tablets made by such manufacturers as Samsung, Nokia, ZTE and others. Aio’s unlimited talk, text and data rate plans range from $35 to $70 per month.

The introduction of the service, clearly pitched at Millennials with a lo-fi visual identity, Vine videos and Instagram feeds, could be “a strategic stab against Verizon Wireless as well as other prepaid carriers,” according to FierceWireless.com. Verizon recently introduced a prepaid plan that costs consumers $35 while the no-contract-touting T-Mobile has been promoting a $60 per month prepaid plan.

PhoneScoop.com theorizes that Aio’s launch may have something to do with the merger between T-Mobile and MetroPCS, or maybe that’s just what the market is demanding right now. FierceWireless, meanwhile, notes that AT&T has room on its HSPA network to add prepaid customers because it is trying to migrate current subscribers (and attract others) to its LTE service.

As GigaOm points out, AT&T “still has its own branded GoPhone pre-paid service,” and it also markets another service under a similar moniker, its All in One service, which allows small business owners to align their different accounts under one contract and bill.

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