Florida Keys Business
Sunday, May 12, 2013
Cell provider touts cost, reliability

Tavernier's new cellphone shop has a rather quirky location inside the Yazmin Tile Marble storefront at Mile Marker 92.3, bayside.

But it's the monthly plans offered by Total Mobile that owner Michael Valdes and manager Tony Cruz hope will draw a crowd.

"We did this because we are trying to give the local people an alternative," Cruz said at the store on a recent morning. "We are working with smaller companies with the same services."

Plans sold at Total Mobile start at $29 per month for unlimited talking and texting. Throw in unlimited online use and the price goes up to $40 for simple smartphones that can mainly do routine Internet searches and emailing. The price is $50 per month for more sophisticated models, like the newer iPhones, Galaxies and Androids. Total Mobile's rates cap at $65 per month for those who want unlimited international calling in addition to domestic phone service. All of the plans are prepaid monthly, contract free.

The prices may sound too good to be true for many out there who are paying more than $100 per month for their smartphone service. But Cruz said the explanation for the good rates is actually quite simple. Total Mobile is selling plans of several companies that lease space on AT T and T Mobile towers, then offer pre-paid services at reduced rates. Major operators, like Verizon, Sprint, AT T and T-Mobile, typically bill for services only after they have been rendered.

Because the lower-cost plans offered by Total Mobile use the tower networks of major providers, their reliability is on par with those providers, Cruz said. He added that the plans, through companies such as Net10 Wireless and Stop Mobile, allow for unlimited roving.

Total Mobile will also unlock any phone and transfer it over to the AT T network for $45.

In addition to monthly service plans, the new Upper Keys shop sells a full slate of cellphones, as well as accessories such as chargers, cases and SD memory cards. Very basic phones start at $30, while the iPhone 5 retails for $700. Older generation smartphones, like the iPhone 4S, are about half as much as the first generation models.

Total Mobile is open 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Saturday and will also be open Sunday, May 12, from noon to 5 p.m. The shop is offering grand opening discounts on accessories through Sunday. For more information, call 305-853-8855.

"We're the one-stop shop for the best cell brands and services," Cruz said. "No contracts."

rsilk@keysnews.com

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