There’s a new mobile service provider on the block and as it turns out, it’s being backed by a player with plenty of experience. Visible is a new startup from Verizonthat offers super low-cost service that is — get this — unlimited. Folks in the U.S. can get unlimited data, messages, and minutes for just $40 a month, which is almost 50 percent less than the average monthly cellphone bill of $73 in the United States.
Better still, Visible purports not to throttle service for users who truly take advantage of the unlimited offerings. Many of the incumbents in the space (including Verizon) have faced scrutiny for placing a cap on video quality in order to maintain their unlimited offerings. But Visible is promising not to do anything of the sort, which could be a major win among customers.
As it stands, however, Visible isn’t exactly widely available. In fact, the only way to take advantage of the new service is for a current Visible customer to send you an invitation. Only then will you be able to access the Visible app and begin the onboarding process. It’s also limited exclusively to owners of unlocked iPhones. So even if you have an Apple device but are currently linked to, say, T-Mobile, you won’t be eligible for Visible. That said, the startup notes that it’s hoping to extend access to Android users as well, and may ultimately work with phone companies to provide Visible-specific devices.
“We have been really, really happy with the customer interest so far,” Visible CEO Miguel Quiroga told CBS in an interview. He added that phones “can certainly be an opportunity in the future, but it’s still early.” The executive did not provide details on exactly how many users Visible currently has, but seeing as it’s still early days for the startup and access is quite exclusive, it’s unlikely numbers are high.
That said, with help from Verizon, Visible could soon be making a major dent in the market. Currently, Verizon is the most popular wireless service provider, with just over 150 million customers. And as it turns out, the company has been toying with the idea of Visible for quite some time.
“This is something that’s been the seed of an idea for a year or so,” Minjae Ormes, head of marketing at Visible, told TechCrunch. Although Ormes did not reveal how much Verizon ultimately contributed to the business, the executive team is made up largely of ex-Verizon employees, including Quiroga.
“The way I would think about it … we are a phone service in the platform that enables everything that you do. The way we launched and the app messaging piece of it. You do everything else on your phone and a lot of time if you ask people, your phone is your life,” Ormes said. The thinking was, “let’s give you a phone that you can activate right from your phone and get ready to go and see how it resonates.”