The concept of a mobile carrier is changing drastically. Last week, even AT&T dove into the prepaid arena with AIO Wireless
, and T-Mobile USA is attempting
to get rid of the conventional contract altogether. Now, there's another player: Zact. The company is billing itself as the industry's first "smart mobile service," that promises to help its customers "never overpay" for voice, text, and data. It's built around adjustable plans, improved sharing, data-by-the-app, and built-in parental controls.
People are often frustrated by expensive one-size-fits-all plans and mobile phone subsidies that lock them into two-year contracts, but there haven't been too many alternatives if you wanted flagship phones. Also, people want to affordably share their minutes and data among more devices added to their account, but today's options really don't save anything. Here's a bit of how Zact explains its offering:
"With Zact, consumers get a smart mobile service powered by technology from Zact's parent company, ItsOn, which has a cloud-based software platform for delivering unprecedented levels of freedom and flexibility. Consumers are able to create their own unique mix of talk, text and data, and can even forgo buying a data plan altogether to instead buy an app-specific data plan for maximum savings. Zact was created to give people what they want and solve pain points, especially as people add more devices or family members to their account. With Zact, you can easily and quickly adjust your plan right from your device. If you need more talk, text, or data, Zact will let you know and with two taps you'll be able to get more of what you need with no penalties. You will never be charged without your explicit consent so there are never overages or surprises.
There is no need to buy a big expensive sharing plan. Any plan is sharable with Zact. There is no limit to the number of Zact-enabled devices you can add to your account. Once added, you have the option to easily allocate and customize the amount of voice, text and data you assign for each person or device on your account. Outside of a nominal $4.99 monthly maintenance charge per each device, there are no additional fees for sharing and no need for separate amounts of voice, text and data per device. Zact will also allow customers to buy one-off specialized plans. Need a international long distance plan? Or rather skip a data plan, and have individual data just for specific apps at a low price? Zact gives you specialized plans right on your device, so you can be selective and buy only what you need."
Today, the average spend per person in the U.S. on wireless services is $93 per month, according to Nielsen Research – which also states the average person uses 644 voice minutes per month, sends and receives 764 texts per month. In addition the average person in the U.S. utilizes approximately 500 MB of data per month. With Zact, the cost of service that would suit the average person would be approximately $31 per month, with is 3X less than what people typically pay. Even after purchasing an unsubsidized device from Zact, the average smartphone user can still expect to save as much as $1,275 over a two-year period.
Of course, the catch is the phone. The only two phones available for pre-order right now are the LG Viper 4G LTE ($399 off-contract) and the LG Optimus Elite ($199 off-contract). Both of these are Android-based, and neither are particularly awe-inspiring. Also, there's no iPhone, which will kill the whole concept for some. The network runs on Sprint, too, which is widely known as being the worst of the major carriers in terms of coverage in the U.S. That said, devices will begin to ship in June for those interested.