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Walmart To Stoke Q4 Cellular Competition

10/15/2009 10:11:25 AM Eastern

Bentonville, Ark. - Walmart, which already sells TracFone-branded prepaid cellular on a nationwide basis, will now add Straight Talk-brand prepaid services, also provided byTracFone, on an exclusive basis beginning Oct. 18.

A $30/month Straight Talk plan offers 1,000 voice minutes, 1,000 texts and 30MB of mobile Web access nationwide with free 411 calls. An unlimited 30-day plan at $45/month offers unlimited voice, text and Web access nationally, also with free 411 calls. The plans, which will also be available at Walmart.com and StraightTalk.com, follow a successful 234-store pilot program that began last summer, Walmart said.

By switching to the $30 Straight Talk plan, the company contended, "the average 1,000 minutes-per-month consumer could save more than $500 per year and still be on a reliable [Verizon Wireless] nationwide network."

To extend service, consumers will buy monthly refill cards at Walmart or buy online at Walmart.com or StraightTalk.com. Phones tied to the service include an entry-level LG 220 flip phone at $39.98, LG Slider 290 at $79.98 and Samsung 451 with QWERTY keyboard at $99.88.

For now, the service is branded only as "Straight Talk, exclusively at Walmart" in ads, "but there is discussion about packaging changes in the future that will include the Walmart branding," a spokesperson said.

Walmart also offers TracFone's Net10-branded prepaid service.

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