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June 21, 2012

TruConnect, Walmart Launch Casual Tablet Access Plan

By Gary Kim, Contributing Editor

Tablets might create a new market segment for casual users of mobile broadband services, and TruConnect Mobile is among the firms that are trying to validate that new market. But some might note that Verizon Wireless (News - Alert) is also angling to get a share of that business, and that likely means AT&T and others will do so as well.

 TruConnect has partnered with Walmart Stores to deliver “Internet on the Go,” a new prepaid mobile broadband service aimed at casual users.

Customers can buy “Internet on the Go” service with refill, credit or debit cards in increments of $10 for 100 MB, $25 for 500 MB or $45 for 1 GB and use this bandwidth as quickly or as gradually as they want. Online automatic refills are also available for $20 for 450 MB, TruConnect says.

 Heavier users will not find the plan particularly helpful, as other personal hotspot plans from carriers offer higher value. But TruConnect isn’t aiming at those market segments.

 TruConnect hopes to build on current consumption preferences, which have 90 percent of all U.S. tablets using Wi-Fi, not mobile broadband connections, for Internet connectivity, for cost reasons.

Some might question the amount of total tablet data consumption. So far, tablet and PC users consume a clear order of magnitude more data than a smartphone, for example. But it also seems to be the case that most tablet usage is at home, at work or other locations where Wi-Fi is available.

The TruConnect service then would not have to supply all access, only a relatively small amount of “mobile” usage. But some might argue that the new Verizon Wireless Share Everything plans will absorb a good amount of that demand for casual mobile usage, at least for families and other accounts supporting multiple devices.

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Edited by Brooke Neuman
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