Ciao Mobile is a brand new MVNO which just got started in the U.S. a little more than a week...
Ciao Mobile is a brand new MVNO which just got started in the U.S. a little more than a week ago. On March 25th, the company debuted a beta test version of its amazingly affordable $10/month Sprint LTE plan for unlimited talk, text, and data. Can you picture paying just $10/month for unlimited mobile use? That’s the kind of rate that you usually are not going to qualify for unless you are receiving Lifeline Assistance. So you may be asking yourself, “What’s the catch?”
There is one, though depending on your feelings about privacy and advertising, it may or may not alarm you. Users who sign up for Ciao’s Mobile Lite $10/month plan will have to agree to allow a “targeted mobile app” on their phone display advertisements on their lock screen. Right now the only phone which Ciao provides to users is the HTC Evo for $199. The company has not released any information about other phones it plans to offer for the Sprint LTE unlimited plan.
Ciao’s existing mobile plans are not all so cheap. Their more expensive plans are in the range of $60 per month. Those plans also offer unlimited talk, text and data, which make the $10 per month plan quite surprising. Then again, those plans all worked using a traditional pricing model. This Lite plan still comes with a high price—but the price will be paid by the advertisers instead of the users.
Users will need to decide whether they think that seeing targeted mobile advertisements on their lock screen is a reasonable price to pay for incredibly cheap unlimited service. This is an innovative new business model, and a lot of users will probably have no problem seeing past those targeted ads to the tremendous value being provided for $10 per month. Plus, considering that the ads are targeted (geographically, to all indications), they may provide real value to users. Imagine receiving promotions and coupons for nearby restaurants and retail shops while you are out and about. Many users will enjoy these promotions and may even see them as a bonus on top of the low price for the phone plan.
This isn’t the only way that Ciao Telecom is shaking up the communications industry either. By the end of the year, the company is proposing to launch a no-contract IP TV service. This service would provide an alternative to cable TV subscriptions or other internet-based TV subscription services such as Hulu or Amazon Prime. Ciao has not yet announced how they plan to price the service, if indeed they choose to unveil it.
In a time when many consumers cannot afford to deal with lengthy contracts or expensive phone plans, it makes a lot of sense for a company like Ciao to investigate new pricing models. Their new Mobile Lite plan is breaking the mold, and it will be interesting to see if it pays off for them. The appeal to consumers and advertisers alike is obvious—and the plan may very well provide value to everyone.