Small Regional Wireless Companies To Offer Discount iPhones

This is definitely not good news for T-Mobile, which had promised customers they would get the iPhone when the merger with AT&T was complete, but which was left stranded after regulators pulled the couple apart: A handful of small regional carriers will soon not only be offering the iPhone to customers, they’ll be selling it for less than their major competitors.

First up is Virginia-based nTelos, which has about 400,000 customers. Later this month, It will begin selling iPhone 4 (along with two-year contracts) for as little as $50, and the iPhone 4s starting at $150 with two-year contracts. Plans will cost $80 or $100 depending on the number of minutes customers want. Both plans include 5GB/month of data with throttling after that point.

Then there’s Alaska Communications, which will also begin selling the iPhone 4S for $150 later this month to its current base of around 100,000 customers.

Joining in the discount iPhone fun are also Alaska’s GCI and Kentucky-based Appalachian Wireless. The AP reports that Matanuska Telephone Association will be offering the iPhone but not at the discounted price of the other companies, and Wisconsin’s CellCom has only said the iPhone is coming soon, but has not announced prices.

If you’re a T-Mobile customer wondering “what the darn heck?”, GigaOm has a pretty good explanation of the various hurdles involved in getting iPhones on that network — and huge potential pitfalls for the device as wireless companies roll out LTE networks.

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  1. fantomesq says:

    Verizon has been offering the iPhone 4s for $149 for some time… Seriously doubt the regionals will be undercutting the major carriers in headset price.

  2. AustinTXProgrammer says:

    The real magic is in the 5GB data plans…

  3. Jawaka says:

    OMG!, how will I ever function if I can’t get an iPhone?!?

  4. pearlysweetcake says:

    Hooray, GCI, the other Alaska-based carrier is also going to be offering the iPhone (http://www.alaskadispatch.com/article/alaska-s-iphone-wars-are-heating) which is excellent news for me, since ACS does not serve my house, and AT&T only has EDGE available, but GCI is in full-mostly-blazing 3G.

  5. SamEBates says:

    I use my jailbroken and unlocked iPhone on T-Mobile. I paid $190 for the phone, which I found on Craigslist, and my monthly bill (no contract) is $30 for unlimited messaging, 5GB of data, and 100 minutes of talk time. I am pretty pumped about it.

    While it would be nice to have an iPhone and use it with an official carrier so that I don’t live in fear of bricking my phone one day when I plug it into my computer, it is not worth $80 a month.

    • Alliance to Restore the Republic of the United States of America says:

      Did you go with TMobile because Verizon and AT&T wouldn’t let you do this? I’m curious as I’ll be doing this soon.

  6. Apeweek says:

    My latest cellphone “plan” is an iPod Touch with free Google Voice and Google Talkatone installed.

    This turns the Touch into a very iPhone-like device that makes 100% free calls over WiFi connections. (The Touch runs all the same apps iPhone does.)

    The I added a “MiFi” portable wi-fi hotspot from TruConnect for when I’m out of the house. This costs $5/month plus 4 cents per megabyte. Phone calls use less than half a megabyte per minute, and the MiFi is the size of a credit card.

    A similar portable WiFi hotspot is also available from Netzero – theirs is free for the first year, $9.95/month after that.

    Bottom line, I have the equivalent of an iPhone for under $10/month.

    • Kate says:

      biggest problem is those mifi devices in my experience don’t have a good battery life. Mine is about 4 hours.

    • Posthaus says:

      That would also depend on how much you laid out initially for the iPod, and the Touch isn’t cheap in itself. That’s not to say it’s clever and still cheaper in the long run ( that would make an excellent home phone for sure,) but carrying around two devices everywhere for one unified purpose can be a little clumsy.

      • Apeweek says:

        Yes, good point, though the wife and I share the same MiFi. We both work from home, so typically we either both go out at the same time, or one of us goes out while the other stays home (in range of the home WiFi.)

        Also, we’ll often leave the MiFi home if we’re going to someplace with a known WiFi hotspot.

        I’ve “learned” all the open internet connections on the block so I can walk the dog without bringing the MiFi along.

        Added bonus – I love having the MiFi for traveling, which we do often for our businesses. I don’t have to worry about the hotel having a busted or overpriced internet connection (happens about 50% of the time.)

        RE: MiFi battery life – it’s not so short if not constantly used. Our rule is to only make phone calls – no surfing or streaming – while on the MiFi.