It does a whole lot of other things, too, but the extent to which parental control is made possible with Zact is possibly unrivaled as of now.
First and foremost, Zact is a new no-contract, prepaid wireless provider, which purports to challenge the big telecoms for your business. If you’re wondering how a company could come out of nowhere to offer that kind of service, it’s because they’re using Sprint’s network. But, the way they run their business is very much different from Sprint, or any of the other telecoms. Like T-Mobile, Zact is eschewing contracts, but with one twist — Zact’s monthly plans are completely customizable, even on the fly.
You can specify exactly how many minutes, texts, and data you want, and can change that at any point during the month. From there, you can add as many devices as you want to your plan, for $5 each. From the central plan, you can allocate specific amounts of minutes, texts, and data to each device. This is where parents come in — they can have complete control over how much their children can use their mobile devices. On top of that, parents can set restrictions based on time — they can prevent devices from being used after a certain hour, or on weekdays, or set specific app-by-app restrictions for different days and times. It’s not going to be fun to be a kid whose parents buy into Zact.
The customization goes further — you can buy specific amounts of international minutes or data. You can even buy chunks of data for specific apps. Lastly, Zact will refund any amount of money automatically if you accidentally overpay — getting more data, minutes, or texts than you need, or otherwise.
Sounds pretty good, right? It’s a model that will definitely be attractive to many, but there are some caveats. One is that it depends on the Sprint network alone, which locks Zact users into CDMA phones. Not very many CDMA phones at the outset, either — Zact is only offering the LG Viper 4G LTE and LG Optimus Elite unsubsidized at $400 and $200 respectively. If you’re wondering why it’s limited to just those two, and not every other Sprint phone, it’s because phones purchased from Zact will have Zact software baked in deeply, which facilitates that deep customization that they are offering. That said, Zact plans on offering more devices as the year progresses. And they also have support for roaming on Verizon’s network for times when Sprint is unavailable.
In any case, if Zact can get a few high-profile devices into the fold, their anti-plans could be attractive to a good many people out there. It’s not clear yet what the pricing on those anti-plans will be, but Zact claims that an average user can cut their wireless costs down to a third of what they are now. Time will tell, shortly — you can pre-order a Zact device now, and they’ll ship in June.