Wal-Mart expands prepaid phone service to AT&T

Customers looking for lower monthly rates from a prepaid cell phone will soon be able to find some on the AT&T network in Wal-Mart stores.

Shoppers perusing Wal-Mart for a cell phone will soon have double the options--that is, a choice of purchasing a prepaid phone on two carriers instead of just one.

Wal-Mart's Straight Talk wireless service, which has previously run only on Verizon's networks, is expanding to AT&T. StraightTalk is a brand made by TracFone, and is sold exclusively in Wal-Mart stores.

AT&T confirmed to The Wall Street Journal on Monday that StraightTalk phones will work on the network. Wal-Mart would not comment on the impetus behind building out the service to include AT&T.

The expansion to AT&T is interesting for two reasons. First, it gives Wal-Mart a foothold in the GSM prepaid market, in addition to its presence on CDMA channels through Verizon's network. This will allow Wal-Mart to sell its prepaid phones to customers who may live in a coverage area better served by AT&T than by Verizon.

Second, the agreement lets AT&T gain new customers through Wal-Mart's prepaid channels. The Journal notes that "Verizon Wireless added 896,000 customers through its wholesale partners--with Straight Talk believed to be the largest contributor." That's nothing to sneeze at were AT&T able to similarly acquire new customers.

Article updated at 1:18PM PT with Wal-Mart's response.

About the author

Jessica Dolcourt reviews smartphones and cell phones, covers handset news, and pens the monthly column Smartphones Unlocked. A senior editor, she started at CNET in 2006 and spent four years reviewing mobile and desktop software before taking on devices.


Discuss Wal-Mart expands prepaid phone service to...

Conversation powered by Livefyre

This week on CNET News
Hot Products
Trending on CNET

CNET Forums

Looking for tech help?

Whether you’re looking for dependable tech advice or offering helpful tricks, join the conversation in our forums.