A while ago I wrote about Boost Mobile a US pre-paid carrier offering unlimited WAP and Java ME app data access for a total cost of $6.67 a month including tax. Today I saw another unlimited WAP deal that’s even better. It was featured on Ian’s blog Go4Prepaid with an update on the pricing here. The carrier is an MVNO called STi Mobile using Sprint PCS’s 1900 mHz CDMA 1xRTT network. The unlimited WAP deal is 17 cents a day (whether you use it or not) or an average of $5.17/month. STi also offers unlimited WAP combined with unlimited SMS and MMS for $0.29/a day, $8.60/month. 1xRTT is faster (50-80 Kbits/sec) than Boost’s iDEN Packet Data (9-19 Kbits/sec) although 1xRTT’s high latency partially offsets that advantage especially on small text-only pages. I don’t know if Java ME data access will work with STi but I suspect it will as it does on Sprint phones as long as they have WAP access.
Other rates are voice calls 12 cents/min peak, 10 cents nights and weekends, SMS (w/o the 29 cent/day unlimited plan) 5 cents to send or receive. See Go4PrePaid again for coupon codes to get a 20% discount on STi phones 3 to 11% off on refills. International rates are very low, for example, a penny/minute surcharge over domestic to call the U.K., France and China. Boost charges a surcharge of 39 cents to the UK and France and $1.99 to China and Cuba. STi prepaid minutes never expire, but you must place a call at least every 60 days or your service will be canceled.
You can only use phones purchased from STi. Currently there are only four phones available:
LG VI5225 – flip phone with 4096 color STN 120×160 px screen – free after rebate.
Samsung A460 – refurbished flip with greyscale 128×128 px screen – $39.
Nokia 3588i – candy bar phone with 4096 color STN 96×65 px screen – $39.
LG 225 – VGA camera flip with 65,536 color STN 128×160 screen – $49 after rebate.
For WAP the LG 225 seems to be the best choice with it’s better screen. User reviews on Phonescoop are also much better for the 225. Both LG’s have the excellent Openwave 6.2 WAP2 browser and Java ME.
There are some disadvantages to STi but in my opinion they are minor. Retail outlets for STi phones and refill cards are almost non-existent – so you have to purchase both online. Sprint’s network like Boost’s is pretty good covering most cities, towns and highways but there is no roaming and no analog hence little or no coverage in rural areas. Check the STi coverage map to be sure STi will work for you. Actually you should use Virgin Mobile’s much better
coverage map. Virgin, in the US, is also a Sprint MVNO with no roaming so Virgin coverage should be identical to STi’s. Virgin has WAP to but it’s $1 per day or 500KB whichever comes first!