Wireless carrier Open Mobile officially announced the birth of a new business model with which it will break away from the strictly prepaid, no-contract structure it has offered since entering the market more than five years ago.
The carrier also announced the availability of its $250 million 4G Long-Term Evolution digital network throughout most of Puerto Rico, as well as parts of the island municipalities of Vieques and Culebra.
“Today our network offers the most islandwide coverage in comparison to the others. We’re the first to launch true 4G LTE islandwide service,” said Josué González, marketing director of Open Mobile, during a sit-down interview with News is my Business prior to a news conference with other members of the Puerto Rican press corp.
It was a year ago this month that this media outlet first reported on Open Mobile’s plans to launch the next-generation 4G LTE network that now offers its data-hungry smartphone users download speeds of between five and 12 megabits per second, and uploads of 3 megabits per second.
Looking to employ its new network to the fullest, Open Mobile also announced the availability of new billing options and plans that give customers control over their wireless expenses.
For the first time since 2007, the carrier will launch its “Open Agreement,” giving customers the option to choose how much they want to pay for the device of their choice, according to the term of the contract chosen. Clients can opt for agreements lasting 12, 18 or 24 months, which will directly play upon the price of their smartphone, González said.
“This allows us to be more competitive in the market, by becoming a model to be followed,” he said. “We’re going to offer a variety of terms that will allow the client with excellent credit to pick the one that’s most convenient for them.”Open Mobile’s 4G LTE footprint hits most of Puerto Rico’s coastal towns, as well as parts of Vieques and Culebra.
In case a client needs to end its contract before the established term, Open Mobile is extending its new “Early Exit Fee” alternative, which bases the contract termination fee on the life of the agreement.
“The thing is that if a customer pays $200 for a device, we’re not going to charge them $350 to get out of the contract. We’ll charge them according to how much they have left to go on their contract,” González said.
A third component of the company’s new charging structure, is “Billing Cycle Reset,” which lets customers decide when their payment is due, in case they fall behind on what they owe.
“For example, let’s say the customer is able to pay on the 20th of the month. Instead of billing them for the 10 days left of the month, we’ll reset their payment date to the 20th of the next month. Customers can change that billing date however many times they need to, according to when they can pay,” González said.
To back up the availability of its new billing option and network capacities, Open Mobile launched a $2 million multimedia campaign Monday, focusing on the “Communications in your hands” slogan. Through television and print media ads, the effort presents lifestyles and situations typical of daily life, where communication plays an important role.
As of Dec. 31, 2012, Open Mobile had about 340,000 subscribers in Puerto Rico, where it competes against AT&T, Claro de Puerto Rico, T-Mobile and Sprint/Nextel.