Sprint to Offer Prepaid at Wal-Mart, Rounds Down Minutes

Sprint will start selling a new prepaid service — that rounds down calls to the nearest minute — at Wal-Mart stores later this week, as the carrier looks for new ways to appeal to cost-conscious consumers who want no-frills contract-free phones.

The Overland Park, Kan.-based company said its new brand, called Common Cents Mobile, will be exclusive to more than 700 Wal-Mart stores and offer the cheapest per-minute price of any prepaid plan — at 7 cent a minute for calls and the same amount for text messages.

Sprint also boasted an exclusive round-down feature where the amount of minutes billed per call won’t round up to the nearest minute. For example, a call that goes 1:53 will be charged as 1 minute instead of 2.

According to the company, the next lowest competitor charges 10 cents a minute for prepaid calls, while some rivals charge as much as 33 cents a minute.

Common Cents Mobile will launch in Wal-Mart stores across starting this Saturday.

The move is part of an effort to build brands around specific consumer types. The new service targets middle-aged Americans who only occasionally makes calls, the company said. Other areas the company has focused recently launched plans for infrequent callers, such as teens, who send a lot of text messages.

Sprint, which expects that most of its growth to come from prepaid, lost 578,000 postpaid subscribers in the last quarter, but added 348,000 prepaid customers.

Earlier this week, Sprint unveiled data-centric wireless plans under its Virgin Mobile prepaid brand.

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