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Phones

Verizon surreptitiously launches Visible, a prepaid carrier

By Jules Wang May 11, 2018, 5:02 pm

Verizon has a fairly healthy prepaid operation under its own name right now, though it clearly lacks the ground that competitors have such as T-Mobile’s MetroPCS and Sprint’s Boost Mobile and Virgin Mobile. As those two parent carriers negotiate with regulators on their merger, all this has left prepaid customers worried that the new T-Mobile’s 54 percent share of the market will leave them with fewer affordable options.

And while Big Red says that it does “not care” about the merger, it could be hedging its bets in prepaid with a new branded prepaid operation.

Visible was launched earlier this year and is still in somewhat of a clandestine beta relegated only to iPhones — possibly as clandestine as the millenial audience it’s trying to target. Signees get shipped a SIM to put into their device. They then download the corresponding app to their phones and set up payment information — accepted sources include cards, PayPal and Venmo — and get onto the one plan: $40 for unlimited talk, text and data.

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Imping AT&T’s Cricket Wireless, we get to some restrictions on data speed: traffic on Verizon’s LTE network will be limited to 5Mbps for general use, 3Mbps for video streaming — Visible calls 480p resolution “crisp” — 2Mbps for video calls, 1Mbps for social media and 500kbps for streaming music. All that is in addition to the typical local congestion throttling that may occur. And there’s no hotspot data nor international service to boot.

The company is currently seeding early access codes, so there’s a slim chance you’re going to find one and be able to participate. Furthermore, Visible will not be promoted at Verizon stores and the brand will not have stores of its own. Customer service is done mostly through web chat and texting — including service cancellation.

Verizon is pitching Visible also as a conscientious carrier. Portions of proceeds will go to nonprofit groups.

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