Non-traditional phone plans on rise as users look for cheaper options

WYTV took a look how some people are cutting their bills in half

Cell phone generic

YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio (WYTV) – Are you paying too much for your mobile phone bill?

First News took a look how some people are cutting their bills in half.

When it came time to pick a phone for her new business, Massage Therapist Sherri Wintjen skipped the land line. She even skipped the traditional wireless companies, going for a no-contract phone through Virgin Mobile.

“It’s important for me to have a good, stable texting system, because my business needs to be quiet,” she said. “I don’t need the phone ringing during the time that a client is here with me.”

The service has been great so far, and she says the price is great for starting a business.

“You do have to buy your own phone, so it’s an output, but they do have to have them ranging between $40 and $300, so it’s whatever your budget is comfortable with,” she said.

The savings come from using a generic cell phone service over a name-brand one. Although the carriers use the same network, the bill for one is $100 a month while another is $45.

Companies like Virgin Mobile, FreedomPop and GoPhone Lease Network access from companies like Sprint.

Stephen Stokol, founder of Freedom Pop – by Skype, said he believes some of the major cell phone carriers are price gouging their customers.

“We got started because of the premise that carriers were gouging consumers and data voice and text was overpriced, and new technology, like OTT technology like WhatsApp, should lead the way,” he said.

OTT, or over-the-top technology, allows consumers to access content through internet-connection devices, such as laptop computers, gaming consoles and smartphones. OTT allows customers to view film and TV content via the internet, without a subscription to traditional cable or satellite pay-TV services.

In the same way, one of the most popular plans on FreedomPop is free.

“Obviously, on a free plan, you’re paying zero,” Stokol said. “Over half our customers don’t pay us a penny from month to month.”

FreedomPop handles the customer service and Sprint gets the money. That turns into a win for customers.

“Over the last couple years, we’ve really seen a big change when it comes to prepaid wireless,” said Jay Miglionico, manager for prepaid wireless sales at Sprint.

Prepaid and no-contract phones are growing. Industry insiders say 10 percent of American mobile customers have left traditional contracts and are going for cheaper plans.

Miglionico said its easy to see why.

“The plans are much more competitive than the contract carriers that are out there, and the lease carriers that are out there, like AT&T, Verizon, Spring and T-Mobile,” he said.

Ash Salman owns 16 Boost Mobile stores in Youngstown. He says prepaid phones are a great fit for the area, and he plans to expand.

“You don’t have to sign up for a contract, being able to get the great service,” he said. “Unlimited, 4G coverage, being able to pick between 20-30 different phones and not having to be in a long-term plan,” he said. “That’s the ideal phone plan.”

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