Verizon’s wallet-friendly prepaid phone service Visible launched several new features on Tuesday, including a much-anticipated support for embedded SIM technology.
The technology, also known as eSIM, allows customers with capable phones to seamlessly switch carriers without needing to purchase a new SIM card, which can cost between $5 and $30, depending on the service.
“Visible is the only carrier truly able to leverage the power of eSIM, allowing members to change carriers effortlessly and digitally, in as little as 15 minutes,” Miguel Quiroga, Visible’s chief executive, said in a social media post on Tuesday. (The statement is slightly incorrect: T-Mobile’s prepaid service has offered eSIM support since last year. Quiroga hasn’t yet responded to a request from The Desk asking for clarification about his statement.)
Visible is Verizon’s answer to subsidiary prepaid brands operated by rivals T-Mobile (Metro by T-Mobile, formerly MetroPCS) and AT&T (Cricket Wireless). The service operates on top of Verizon’s national 4G LTE and 5G network and offers customers unlimited talk, text and data for just $40 a month. Customers can further reduce their bills by roping in friends and family members onto their plan, a feature Visible calls “Party Pay” — four lines of service on a single account costs $100, or $25 per line.
On Tuesday, Visible said it was offering customers the option of saving even more through a re-launch of the company’s referral program, which can lower their bills to as low as $5 a month for each friend who activates using their referral code (up to a maximum of 12 within a year).
Visible manages to keep it prices low through some creative business practices: It doesn’t operate physical stores, all of its support employees are remote, and it pushes customers who have problems to resolve them using text or social media chat services.
Perks that are afforded to Verizon’s post-paid customers like free access to Disney’s streaming services and Apple Music aren’t offered to Visible customers, and Visible users are subject to de-prioritized connections, especially during times of network congestion.
Still, Visible has its fans — particularly, customers who aren’t too demanding of their smartphones and simply want access to Verizon’s network without breaking the bank. The company’s support for eSIM may attract another kind of customer: Those with AT&T, T-Mobile or another MVNO who don’t mind plunking down $40 a month for access to backup data on a substitute network. (Most phones allow customers to use a SIM card and an eSIM simultaneously.)
Another perk that may cause customers to switch or add Visible as a supplement to their existing phone service: All subscribers now have access to Verizon’s 5G network, including its ultra-fast milli-meter wave technology. (Previously, that feature was limited to customers with Apple’s latest iPhones.) Visible caps 5G speeds at 200 Megabits per second, which is significantly slower than potential speeds on Verizon’s post-paid plans, but it’s still plenty fast for data-heavy applications like video streaming and mobile gaming.