Ina Fried

Recent Posts by Ina Fried

Solavei Brings BlackBerry Z10 to the U.S. Early — For Nearly a Thousand Bucks

Aspiring wireless carrier Solavei is looking to grab some attention by offering its customers first crack at the new BlackBerry — at least for customers willing to pony up nearly $1,000 for an unlocked model.

BlackBerry on Solavei

The carrier is announcing later on Monday that customers who want the new BlackBerry can get it from its retail partner, GSM Nation. Solavei is one of a new breed of cellular providers that sell service under their own plans, using the networks of one of the major carriers. In Solavei’s case, it’s using T-Mobile’s network.

Solavei’s pitch is that it offers cheap unlimited service, as well as the opportunity to save money or even potentially make money each month by recruiting friends to sign up.

At $999, Solavei’s BlackBerry is not only way more than most people pay for a smartphone, but is one of the priciest unlocked devices on the market, and more than the BlackBerry typically sells for unlocked. RIM is selling the BlackBerry unlocked through carriers in the Middle East for around $700.

That said, Solavei customers can order the device starting Monday, while U.S. customers looking to get a subsidized version of the phone will have to wait until mid-March. BlackBerry announced the Z10 last month, and has started selling it in the United Kingdom and Canada, among other places.

“We believe in giving our members access to the latest phones and wireless capabilities,” Solavei CEO Ryan Wuerch said in a statement. “Solavei not only gives its members the opportunity to pay less for unlimited mobile service, but even the opportunity to earn income by sharing Solavei with others.”

Solavei says it has signed up more than 120,000 members since September, and has paid out more than $5 million in commissions since its launch.

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I think the NSA has a job to do and we need the NSA. But as (physicist) Robert Oppenheimer said, “When you see something that is technically sweet, you go ahead and do it and argue about what to do about it only after you’ve had your technical success. That is the way it was with the atomic bomb.”

— Phil Zimmerman, PGP inventor and Silent Circle co-founder, in an interview with Om Malik