LOS ANGELES – A new cellphone company called Visible offers service on the Verizon network with an unlimited plan including calls, text and data for just $40 a month – and mysterious storefronts are popping up around the nation.
They're painted bright blue, with the words 404, Store Not Found printed on them.
Spoiler alert! They're for a new wireless cellphone service called Visible.
Visible, which is owned by Verizon but independently operated, is offering what might be the best value in a cellphone plan yet. Forty dollars a month gets you unlimited talk, text and data on Verizon's network.
"Visible is an all-digital wireless carrier. Our business model is based on one simple, easy to use experience," said CEO Miguel Quiroga, who previously worked for Verizon for 18 years.
The service is truly unlimited and it's not just a portion of Verizon's network that you get access to.
"There’s no throttling at all... you get basically every access point that Verizon has," Quiroga said.
Even mobile hotspot is included for a limited time, at least for early adopters signing up for the plan.
So what is the catch?
For starters, you have to bring you own phone and it has to be an iPhone, at least for now. Visible said many recent models will work, but there is a tool on Visible's website where you can check to see if yours is compatible.
Once you confirm that your phone will work, Visible will send you a SIM card kit. You'll have to put the SIM card into your phone using a tiny tool they provide. Don't worry, it's pretty simple.
Since there are no stores (the 404 Stores are actually empty), everything happens in the Visible app. You sign up for service, make payments and even contact customer service through it.
If there is a catch, it's the speed that your service is delivered at. Network speed is limited to 5 megabits per second. KTLA did a speed test using Visible service side-by-side with Verizon's standard service.
Verizon's download speeds were about 10 times faster. But then again, the monthly bill is about twice as expensive.
So unless you’re a social media star, uploading and downloading large video files and going live on Facebook, your phone probably won't notice a big difference. If you're doing typical things like watching Netflix, sending iMessages and streaming music, the speed Visible offers will be plenty fast enough, says KTLA's tech expert Rich DeMuro.
"Voice, video, streaming, music, surfing, email... [customers] basically get everything they need for the speed that we offer," concluded Quiroga.
Visible used to be invite only, but it is now available to everyone.
NOW LISTEN: Here is an in-depth interview with Visible CEO Miguel Quiroga who shares more information about the service and the relationship between Verizon and Visible. From the Rich on Tech Podcast.