Bentonville, Ark. -
is expanding beyond exclusive prepaid cellular-service brands to offer an exclusive postpaid service targeted to families.
The service, called Walmart Family Mobile Powered by T-Mobile, is the chain's first exclusive postpaid cellular service as well as the chain's first Walmart-branded cellular service. Unlike traditional postpaid services, however, phones are offered without a contract or multi-year commitment, just as they are with traditional prepaid services.
Walmart Family Mobile joins Common Cents Mobile, an exclusive pay-as-you-go prepaid brand
using the Sprint network, and Straight Talk, another exclusive prepaid service launched last fall with monthly unlimited plans through MVNO (mobile virtual network operator) Tracfone Wireless.
The rollout is part of an
by Walmart to further expand its cellular share.
The new service, available in almost 2,500 Walmart stores starting Sept. 20, will offer phones from Samsung, Motorola and Nokia, including Android smartphones. Although pricing of the no-contract phones wasn't revealed, the retailer said the service's unlimited-talk-and-text plan would offer a family of three savings of up to $1,200 per year compared with the national unlimited talk and text plans with three lines offered by AT&T and Verizon, excluding taxes, fees and the cost of a phone. The first line of service is just $45 per month, and each additional line is $25 per month.
Newly activated accounts also get a 100MB WebPak to share 100MB of data among all lines on an account's Family Plan. Unused data doesn't expire, but when it's used up, consumers can purchase WebPak refill cards at Walmart stores or online in the same way that consumers purchase service under many prepaid plans.
WebPak refills can be used to access the web and download ringtones, games and other apps. WebPak can also be used to make international calls to several countries for as low as 5 cents per minute, the chain said.
More information about the service will be available later this week at
T-Mobile USA COO Jim Alling said the new service offers post-paid customers "a low-cost alternative for unlimited voice, messaging, web and inexpensive international calling." Walmart U.S. merchandising VP Greg Hall said the service will let people "build meaningful relationships with family and friends" even when "budgets are limited."