This Day On The Street
Continue to site right-arrow
ADVERTISEMENT
This account is pending registration confirmation. Please click on the link within the confirmation email previously sent you to complete registration.
Need a new registration confirmation email? Click here
$1 buys you full access to ALL of TheStreet's Subscription Services! Learn More

Wal-Mart, the Business Phone Company

Stocks in this article: WMTNOK

I didn't see this one coming: Wal-Mart (WMT), the nation's largest retailer, has become a legitimate choice for smaller shops trying manage the royal headache that is wireless business telephony.

We here on planet small biz know the evil that lurks in business mobile phones. Yes, Verizon (VZ), T-Mobile, Sprint (S) and AT&T (T) are happy to sell you a slick discounted Droid or Apple (AAPL) iPhone as part of of a business cell phone plan, but the deal usually comes with a two-year contract, other limitations and lots of tricky fees. So prepaid cell phones, which require no contracts and can even be paid for in cash, have become my sleeper pick for small-business wireless. Yes, the phones cost more upfront, but you can go month to month with no commitments and otherwise keep your cellular business life simple.

Prepaid phones are getting so popular that even retail giant Wal-Mart has entered the fray. Its Straight Talk brand resells cellular access provided by Miami-based TracFone Wireless, the so-called mobile virtual network operator with 15 million subscribers. TracFone in turn resells network access from Verizon, AT&T and T-Mobile at prices that are Sam Walton-esque: $30 for 1,000 minutes and 30 megabytes of Web access (enough for average e-mail use) for 30 days. Or $45 a month for unlimited service, data and text. No contract. No fees. What's not to love?

Until now, the service has been for consumers only. But Straight Talk recently made itself relevant to business by rolling out two legitimate smartphones, the Nokia (NOK) 6790 and N71 (both list at $200).

Since Wal-Mart officials declined to be interviewed for this story or participate in a demo, I headed down to my local White Plains, N.Y., store with my cousin Quillan, who is visiting and in need of a phone. We bought one and spent the past two weeks testing this service in New York and Maine and along Interstate 80 out to Indiana.

1 of 2

Select the service that is right for you!

COMPARE ALL SERVICES
Action Alerts PLUS
Try it NOW

Jim Cramer and Stephanie Link actively manage a real portfolio and reveal their money management tactics while giving advanced notice before every trade.

Product Features:
  • $2.5+ million portfolio
  • Large-cap and dividend focus
  • Intraday trade alerts from Cramer
  • Weekly roundups
TheStreet Quant Ratings
Try it NOW
Only $49.95/yr

Access the tool that DOMINATES the Russell 2000 and the S&P 500.

Product Features:
  • Buy, hold, or sell recommendations for over 4,300 stocks
  • Unlimited research reports on your favorite stocks
  • A custom stock screener
  • Upgrade/downgrade alerts
Stocks Under $10
Try it NOW

David Peltier, uncovers low dollar stocks with extraordinary upside potential that are flying under Wall Street's radar.

Product Features:
  • Model portfolio
  • Stocks trading below $10
  • Intraday trade alerts
  • Weekly roundups
Dividend Stock Advisor
Try it NOW

Jim Cramer's protege, David Peltier, identifies the best of breed dividend stocks that will pay a reliable AND significant income stream.

Product Features:
  • Diversified model portfolio of dividend stocks
  • Alerts when market news affect the portfolio
  • Bi-weekly updates with exact steps to take - BUY, HOLD, SELL
Real Money Pro
Try it NOW

All of Real Money, plus 15 more of Wall Street's sharpest minds delivering actionable trading ideas, a comprehensive look at the market, and fundamental and technical analysis.

Product Features:
  • Real Money + Doug Kass Plus 15 more Wall Street Pros
  • Intraday commentary & news
  • Ultra-actionable trading ideas
Options Profits
Try it NOW

Our options trading pros provide daily market commentary and over 100 monthly option trading ideas and strategies to help you become a well-seasoned trader.

Product Features:
  • 100+ monthly options trading ideas
  • Actionable options commentary & news
  • Real-time trading community
  • Options TV
To begin commenting right away, you can log in below using your Disqus, Facebook, Twitter, OpenID or Yahoo login credentials. Alternatively, you can post a comment as a "guest" just by entering an email address. Your use of the commenting tool is subject to multiple terms of service/use and privacy policies - see here for more details.
Submit an article to us!

Markets

DOW 17,828.24 +0.49 0.00%
S&P 500 2,067.56 -5.27 -0.25%
NASDAQ 4,791.63 +4.3130 0.09%

Brokerage Partners

Rates from Bankrate.com

  • Mortgage
  • Credit Cards
  • Auto

Free Newsletters from TheStreet

My Subscriptions:

After the Bell

Before the Bell

Booyah! Newsletter

Midday Bell

TheStreet Top 10 Stories

Winners & Losers

Register for Newsletters
Top Rated Stocks Top Rated Funds Top Rated ETFs