[Photo Credit: GottaBeMobile]
Solavei has been in the news lately as one of the newest mobile virtual network operators (or MVNOs) to offer prepaid plans for customers who do not desire two-year, contractual agreements with major American carriers such as Sprint, Verizon, AT&T, and even T-Mobile. MVNOs do not offer their own wireless network, but “piggyback” off of the networks of others; that is, they use independent networks that belong to major carriers. In the case of Solavei, it uses T-Mobile’s HSPA+ network to offer affordable prices for its customers.
The Solavei plan offers an incredible unlimited plan that makes it stand out from most MVNOs around. I have used Freedompop for the last five months, and I can report that the service gives excellent Sprint 4G WiMax wireless in my area. At the same time, Freedompop offers only 500MB of free 4G data; Solavei, in contrast, offers a full 4GB of 4G data before it throttles your data speeds to 2G wireless. Your voice and text capabilities are unlimited in the fullest sense of the word. For those who do not like 2G EDGE data, you can always rely on WiFi (if you have strong download and upload speeds on your local wireless network). The 4GB of Solavei data plus the unlimited voice and texts come in at $49 a month. If you participate in Solavei’s affiliate system, by which you refer three friends who each sign up for Solavei’s service, you start to save money on your phone bill each month. If you refer up to nine friends, you can actually make money in your pocket, according to CNET’s Rick Broida:
“In a nutshell, if you refer three other paying customers, you get $20 per month off your bill. Wrangle another three and get another $20 off. And so on and so on. Once you’ve covered your entire bill (i.e., signed up at least three trios, or nine people), you start pocketing the difference. Translation: you can actually make money. It’s a little pyramid schemey, perhaps, but you gotta love the incentive of having no phone bill” (Rick Broida, “Solavei offers unlimited, no-contract phone service for $49 per month”).
I have to agree with Rick Broida; there is nothing greater in the world than having an affordable phone bill — or rather, no phone bill whatsoever. This, plus the affordable monthly payment and 4GB of 4G data, make Solavei an offer that you cannot pass up.
There is one problem, however: in order to experience 4G data for all its worth, you must have a 4G-enabled device. Currently, as a T-Mobile customer, I enjoy T-Mobile’s service but do not like the 500MB (0.5GB) 4G data that I do not experience because I own an iPhone 4S. The iPhone 4S is wonderful, but it runs on 3G wireless; depending upon the geographic location, you may experience 2G EDGE instead of 3G service. I have 4G wireless on my Samsung Galaxy S3 by way of US Cellular, but I would like to experience 4G cellular service on my prepaid iPhone.
If you are like me and own an iPhone 4S, you are probably ready for the iPhone 5 (or iPhone 5S) if only for its 4GLTE capability. Well, you can now purchase an iPhone 5 and place it on Solavei’s prepaid network. Solavei’s network will run on T-Mobile’s service, but it offers you more 4G data on your 4G-enabled device than T-Mobile does (4GB vs. 500MB, respectively). Solavei just acquired nano-SIM cards this week for iPhone 5 users who want to use their iPhone 5 on T-Mobile’s network. The nano-SIM card will cost you $9, in addition to signing up for Solavei’s prepaid monthly agreement (what T-Mobile calls their “Monthly4G” plan). In order to purchase your iPhone 5, visit Apple.com and choose a “Factory Unlocked” iPhone 5. If you are on AT&T’s network and want to leave your contract early, just bring your iPhone to Solavei. AT&T iPhones can run on Solavei’s network because AT&T runs on GSM (Global System for Mobile Communications) while carriers such as Sprint, Verizon, and US Cellular run on CDMA (code division multiple access).
If you want something different from the coveted iPhone experience, Solavei also offers the new BlackBerry Z10. As Cam Bunton of Today’s iPhone said a few days ago (in his BBZ10 review), the BlackBerry does what you need it to do but does not have enough apps for users who want to have the entire experience. If you purchase the BBZ10, however, you may want to wait until the price drops. As of now, the BlackBerry Z10 will cost you a rough $999 (now $709) with Solavei’s prepaid service. Even if your phone bill costs $80 a month with Sprint or AT&T, no smartphone is worth $1000 out of pocket — not even a BlackBerry, Apple, or Samsung smartphone. Other phones offered with Solavei’s service are as follows:
* Samsung Galaxy S3 ($575)
* HTC Amaze 4G ($345)
* Motorola Defy ($205)
* Samsung Dart T499 ($129)
* Nokia Asha 311 ($129)
* Nokia 500 Fate ($145)
* LG G2x ($259)
* LG Nexus 4 ($379)
* Samsung Ativ S ($589)
* iPhone 4 ($499)
* iPhone 4S ($599)
* iPhone 5 ($699)