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from the L.A. Times

Wal-Mart to offer no-contract cellphone service

Walmart Wal-Mart Stores Inc. is launching a no-contract wireless service called Straight Talk. The service offers a $30 or a $45 prepaid monthly plan and will be exclusively available at more than 3,200 Wal-Mart stores nationwide starting Sunday.

The $30 monthly plan includes 1,000 minutes, 1,000 texts, 30MB of mobile Web access, nationwide coverage and 411 calls at no extra charge. The average U.S. adult spends $78 a month for 1,000 minutes, according to Wal-Mart, and this plan would save him or her more than $500 a year.

The $45 monthly plan includes unlimited minutes, unlimited texts, unlimited mobile Web access, nationwide coverage and unlimited 411 calls.

Straight Talk was developed with TracFone Wireless, and a pilot program was launched last summer in 234 Wal-Mart stores. "In light of the savings customers continue to need, we have worked very quickly to extend this offering to all of our Wal-Mart customers nationwide, and just before the holidays," said Greg Hall, Wal-Mart vice president of Media Services.

Consumers can buy plans and refill their monthly balances at Wal-Mart or online at or

-- Melissa Rohlin

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