AT&T launches Aio Wireless, a new pre-paid bring-your-own-phone brand


aio wireless graphic

“Bring your own phone” services are becoming quite the popular kid in America, and AT&T wants to make sure it’s jumping on that wagon. The carrier has announced Aio Wireless, its pre-paid brand where you can buy one of their phones or bring your own, compatible unlocked phone.

Their Android selection includes the Samsung Galaxy Express for $250, the Samsung Galaxy Amp for $100, and the ZTE Prelude for just $50. Those are some very cheap prices, but the phones aren’t the best in the land of Android. Bringing over any compatible GSM phone is fine, though, so you’re not tied to these options as you would be on a CDMA-based pre-paid carrier.

Aio has plans ranging from $40 to $70 for smartphones, and $15 for tablets. Each plan comes with unlimited data, though you will be throttled after using a certain amount. In fact, the entire service is throttled — AT&T will prevent you from going beyond 4 megabits even if you’re in an area that can handle more.

Beyond that, you’ll be throttled to slower speeds on the $40 plan after using just 250MB, while the $70 plan would give you as much as 7GB of high-speed data. You can also add 1GB of high speed data for $10 if you feel you need more.

The service isn’t live everywhere yet, with trial runs taking place in Houston, Orlando, and Tampa to start. More markets will get support as the year moves on, though, so be sure to keep checking in with AT&T to see when your area might get it. If you live in one of the aforementioned markets and you feel like giving it a shot be sure to check out their full list of phones and plans at the Aio website.

Quentyn Kennemer
The "Google Phone" sounded too awesome to pass up, so I bought a G1. The rest is history. And yes, I know my name isn't Wilson.

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  1. Next. T-Mobile USA is better.

    1. Only if they (tmobile) had better coverage than what they currently have. But, they don’t.. so no tmobile for me

      1. I was snowed by this myth as well.

        Turns out, I’m getting 4G my entire drive on T-Mob whereas VZW would drop out data and voice completely (10 miles and 4 miles respectively).

        Wish I’d switched sooner. Got one line off of VZW, the rest will follow as the contracts are up…which cannot happen soon enough.

        I am so over VZW’s BS and lies.

        1. It just depends on where you are. T-Mo is mostly fine in my current area, but once you get too far away from a big city, it drops off in a hurry where my wife’s AT&T is fine. The reverse situation almost never happens around here, but I’m sure it happens elsewhere.

          VZW’s coverage has generally been amazing no matter where I’ve gone — but I haven’t gone everywhere. Or even most places.

          1. The funny part?

            VZW was dropping in farmland/country.

            …and T-Mob is giving me 4G and crystal clear calls through that same area.

            Really makes me wonder how much of this “VZW’s covereage is better” is marketing BS we’ve just been fed so much and so often that we don’t even question anymore.

            My father’s GF travels a lot and also uses T-Mob. I spoke to her about my experiences this past week and she said she’s never had an issue (of course, she only uses the flip-phone – no data.)

            I think the supposed coverage-gap between VZW and T-mob may be smaller than the hive-mind seems to think.

          2. Yes and no… while Verizon is most definitely guilty of creating their coverage map using the Bucket tool on Microsoft Paint, tmo is largely the urban and highway carrier they have a reputation for… and that’s now changing with their 3G roaming agreement with AT&T and new phones that have PCS for 3G instead of just AWS. It’s certainly a shrinking gap tho.

          3. Well, it adds up seeing as I live in a rural/farm community and drive into suburbia every day. just struck me as “opposite the norm” when it was VZW dropping on that trip and T-Mob being rock solid.

            Might be time for some folks who might never have considered a move from VZW because of their “great” network to start reconsidering. Might work out well for some. Might not for others.

            My guess though, is that we might be surprised at how many find it works out.

          4. I’m in the same situation, actually. My work provided Tmo line has seen greatly improved coverage over the past months. The playing field is definitely leveling off. And before I switched my personal line to AT&T, my Verizon coverage was becoming abysmal.

          5. I wish I could. Here where I live, VZW has great 4G coverage and Tmobile is on EDGE. I live in Mississippi though, we get everything last.

          6. I am basically in the same boat here in the michiana (michigan/indiana) area. Sprint has very nonexistent coverage as my boost mobile server showed standing by a window for a single bar and having to roam the yard when I am outside for the same bar. so yeah glad i switched from the nonexistent sprint based boost mobile over to Straight Talk with a verizon based Samsung Galaxy Proclaim had the Samsung Galaxy Prevail with Boost so it was more of a slight step up from what I had. More internal storage a slightly larger screen 3.5 compared to the 3.2 on the Prevail and much better coverage I can go anywhere and wont drop to less then 2 bars. paying an extra $10 or so compared to what I was paying with boost tho no biggie tho

          7. Those Aio stores will be few and far between in MS for quite a while. Not offering this service through the local ATT store makes zero sense. And, you can’t order online unless Aio is available where you live.

        2. It’s not a myth depending on where you live. I got a T-Mobile hotspot to try out their network. No coverage whatsoever within a 50 mile radius of my house. Verizon (on my Galaxy Nexus) gets me full bars LTE and AT&T (on my GSM Nexus 7) gets me full bars HSPA+. I’d be on T-Mobile in a heartbeat but it’s simply not an option.

          1. That has little bearing on it being a myth. It simply means VZW has better coverage in that area.

            The thing that got me about my experience was that the drops from VZW occurred in areas we’re often told T-Mob wouldn’t even *have* coverage (country/farmland). VZW drops there…but T-Mob? No issues at all.

            I’m not saying providers don’t have dead-spots. I am simply suggesting that the widely-held belief that VZW has “the best” network…might be due to be seriously re-considered as to how valid it may or may not be at this point.

          2. Hence why I said “depending on where you live” right after saying it wasn’t a myth. Reading is key.

      2. It gets annoying when people constantly down TMO for coverage. Every carrier has dead zones. It’s all about where you’re going to personally be using the services. If you have it I’m your home area, go for them. Their service is great and so are the prices.

        1. I live in an HSPA+42 city. The coverage map shows great coverage at my address. It goes to EDGE when I turn down my street. As soon as I walk in my apartment, it goes to GPRS (1G). I found that to be the case in most buildings. Their coverage is terrible, even in their “good coverage” areas. Had to keep my Verizon service.

          1. gprs is still 2g 1g refers to the analog networks that were shut down by government mandate long ago.

          2. GPRS was 1G for at&t and tmobile. Analog didn’t have data

          3. and that is why analog was 1g because the lack of data it became 2g when data was introduced (gsm, gprs, edge) 3g is mobile broadband with simultaneous calling (umts, hspa) 4g is high speed data (hspa+ lte)

          4. The G is for data. GPRS was 1G. EDGE is 2G. UMTS/HSPA is 3G. LTE is 4G.

          5. the g is for network generation has nothing to do with data although the evolution of data has been factors for classifying the most recent releases.

        2. It gets annoying when the subject has nothing whatsoever to do with TMO, but some fanboi has to toss their two cents in.

          1. The whole point to this new Aio is to compete with t-mobile’s simple plans. LOL..

    2. T-Mobile simply doesn’t have the coverage.

      Better plans, yes…. coverage isn’t there.
      Who wants EDGE in buildings?

      Yes.. better in some areas but unless your in a really big metro your okay.
      Once you go 10 miles out of that metro your on EDGE or GPRS…. sorry pass.

  2. So this explains why straight talk, etc no longer has att sim cards.

    1. Yeah, I got the att sim card from striaght talk, then the next week they were sold out. I guess I’ll still have some choices if they cancel att plans anyways.

  3. The best thing about this right now is the Samsung Galaxy AMP for $99.99 as it’s a rebranded Galaxy SIII Mini. It’s a great choice for anyone who doesn’t want to spend a lot of money for a rather decent phone brand new (much better choice than a lot of prepaid phones in that price range).

  4. I am all over this when my Verizon contract is up. Unlocked nexus here I come!

  5. Doesn’t seem to be available in Atlanta or Philadelphia. Those are the only cities that i know a few zip codes in.

    1. “Service is currently available in Houston, Orlando, and Tampa and we’re opening up service in more cities over the coming weeks.”

      This is what is on their website right now.

  6. Their plans aren’t much better than att’s regular plans, and it’s definitely not a better deal than a plan with straight talk or net 10. Their $40/month plan is only for “basic phones”. If you have a smart phone, you’re looking at $55/month.

  7. Having typical smartphone sounds better than this. Contract or not.

  8. $40 to $70?!?! I don’t know much about American pricing models for mobile phones and prepaid contracts but compare that to GiffGaff in the UK where you pay £10 for 1gb or £12 for unlimited plus unlimited text messages and a decent number of minutes per month and the above seems like extortion!!

    1. England > US > Canada in terms of plans.

  9. As QUENTYN stated,the data speeds are capped @ HSPA+,no LTE available for AiO.If you’re in a good coverage area (eventually),sounds like a decent deal.If it were available @ the time that I switched to T-MOBILE last month,I’d given it serious consideration.

  10. If a company can surpass T-Mobile, they will get my money. Until then, T-Mobile has my money.

  11. These plans don’t seem remotely competitive price wise with most prepaid carriers. Unless you’re stuck in a part of the country where it is AT&T or bust, I don’t see them being a good option.
    If you’re covered well by T-mobile, they’re (or one of their MVNOs) are really tough to beat. I use Solavei’s $49 for unlimited talk/text + 4GB plan and it works great for me (PS, if you want a free sim card for them you can get them @ Straight Talk serves people well for just $45 a month (provided you avoid their moving data throttling cap… usually around 2GB a month but it varies at random). Bottom line, for every plan offered via Aio, there is another provider offering something similar for much less. Hopefully they adjust their pricing after this trial run, because it is too high.
    Also, this trend of unlimited plans doesn’t impact most users. A lot of people I know are light to medium users and unlimited plans end up causing them to spend much more than they really need to. For them, companies like Ting (if Sprint has solid coverage by you) can always save them boatloads more than anyone else.

  12. I would want to leave t mobile unlimited everything with no throttling for 70 bucks a month for this………..Pass, no stanks!

  13. I can’t see a single reason for a StraightTalk, GoSmart, or Solavai user to switch. The comparison to SimpleMobile is downright embarrassing for Aio. $50/mth for unlimited everything and full DC-HSPA+ download speeds is a killer offer.

  14. i can get LTE on prepaid cricket, boost, metro pcs, virgin mobile for less than the deathstar is charging!
    Why would i pay more for less? (sarcasm intended)

  15. i can get lte from boost, cricket, virgin mobile, metro pcs, or us cellular on prepaid . Why would i pay at&t more for less? (sarcasm intended)

  16. From aio’s website:

    Where can I purchase Aio’s service?
    Aio service can be purchased only at Aio stores, in markets where Aio has launched, and online in those same markets. Visit to learn more.

    Are Aio’s stores company-owned or dealer owned?
    All Aio Wireless stores are owned and operated by independent dealers.
    It looks like aio will be standalone stores with no national online ordering or Walmart distribution. This means the smaller towns with an ATT store or independent ATT dealer or Walmart WILL NOT have the service available.

  17. Aio $40 prepaid:
    – 250 MB data

    T-Mobile $30 prepaid:
    – 5 GB data

    Such a hard decision…

    1. Not if you don’t have TMO coverage.

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