Virgin Mobile’s New a la Carte-Style Smartphone Plan

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The new prepaid plan allows you to pay a low monthly price for unlimited wireless minutes for certain popular apps.

If you spend most of your day checking Facebook, and you want a cheap, prepaid wireless plan, then Virgin Mobile Custom might be a good fit.

It’s an a la carte-style smartphone plan, where users pay for what they want, instead of the traditional bulk data plans.

A base plan for $6.98 a month has 20 minutes of talk and 20 texts. Add $5 more for unlimited access to Facebook, Twitter, Instagram or Pinterest. For 10 bucks more, you can get uncapped access to all four of those popular apps. You could also add unlimited music streaming for an additional $5.

If you want to access any other apps, you’d need to purchase a data plan. There’s a variety of talk, text and data plans to choose from, ranging from $20 to $55 a month.

Says ABC News:

“Phones have migrated largely away from ‘talking’ at this point and are much more utilized for apps, searching and making purchases,” said Ken Wisnefski, founder and CEO of online marketing agency WebiMax. “Talking is secondary. Who talks on a phone anymore?”

The plan is also unique in that you can change your customization, including voice, data and texting options, whenever you want.

“If your needs change and you decide you bought too much of one thing and not enough of another, you can change that anytime you want, every day, every week, every month, once a year, whatever you decide is right for you,” Dow Draper, president of Sprint Prepaid Group, told USA Today. Virgin is part of Sprint’s prepaid business unit.

According to Time, the new Virgin plan may be a good fit for users who go online only to upload pins, post on Facebook or tweet, but advocates of net neutrality, who think that all Web traffic should be treated equally, don’t like it.

In other words, they argue that no Internet service provider should be allowed to enforce preferential treatment — faster speeds — for its users, while other users remain in congested, slower areas of the network. Sprint’s opt-in plan isn’t paid prioritization, but its nature as an exclusive, divided Internet access (like T-Mobile’s unlimited streaming, and also Comcast’s on-demand video games) [has] some advocates worrying it sets a potentially dangerous precedent during an ongoing debate over net neutrality. (The FCC’s Open Internet rules, however, have never applied to wireless carriers.)

The Virgin Mobile Custom plan will launch Aug. 9 at Walmart. The plan is available only on three Android smartphones that can be purchased at Walmart – the ZTE Emblem ($79.88), LG Pulse ($99.88) or LG Unify ($129.88).

What do you think of Virgin’s new custom wireless plan? Share your thoughts below or on our Facebook page.

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