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June 11, 2015

RingPlus Has a Novel Offer for Users: Free Phone Service

“Free phone service” should perk up the hackles of everyone who's written a check to the phone company in the last 30 days. That's just the kind of offer that RingPlus has in mind, and though it won't come without a catch or two, it's still likely to get some folks interested in a new breed of phone service.

Indeed, the phone service is completely free, offering up a monthly 200 voice minutes and 50 text messages, along with a full 10 megabytes of 4G LTE data, which really isn't that useful, but for free, isn't bad. The service is actually paid for with advertising support, in which RingPlus customers are subjected to an advertisement before an outbound call is connected. Basically, the RingPlus customer dials a number, listens to an ad, and then the call is connected, a measure which is only slightly less convenient than more standard services, and certainly less expensive.

RingPlus is also making some changes to its standard pricing plans, including plans running between $20 and $50 a month that offer unlimited voice and text service without ads, and data plans ranging between one and five gigabytes. New plans have fairly universal overage fees, assessing a charge of $0.02 for every minute of voice, text message, or megabyte of data gone over. Considering the number of unlimited voice and text plans involved, though, this should seldom be an issue. International texts run just $0.03 a message, and the new plans are set to come available starting June 13.

RingPlus operates on the Sprint network as a mobile virtual network operator (MVNO), so it should operate where Sprint operates, which is a large swath of the country. Reports suggest that users can use a currently working Sprint phone, or soon, users will be able to buy one direct from RingPlus.

For some users, this may sound like a terrific idea. After all, the idea of a phone that can be used at no charge is an exciting one for those who just regard the mobile phone as an emergency device. Admittedly, since the smartphone era those numbers have been falling off, but the concept does apply, particularly for elderly users or particularly young users. Imagine giving the kids a “free” smartphone that has these kinds of limits; said kids could easily keep in touch with home without breaking the bank. Sure, the data costs might get out of hand—one hour of streaming in 1080p on Netflix, for example, reportedly pulls around 4.7 gigabytes—but that could be controlled.

This isn't the kind of plan that's for everybody, of course, but for those who don't need much in the way of mobile communications, it might be the plan of those users' dreams. A minor inconvenience when making one of a few phone calls does beat spending money for many, so it'll be interesting to see just how far RingPlus can go with this.

Edited by Stefania Viscusi

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