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Virtual mobile network Helio is back from the dead

Virtual mobile network Helio is back from the dead


Helio rising

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Remember Helio, the MVNO that operated on Sprint's network back in 2006? We barely do ourselves — but it's back anyway.

For reasons unclear, Ubi Telecom, a mobile company that focuses on Korean-speaking Americans, is betting that Helio can make a successful comeback. The zombie carrier will operate on Sprint's network, just like before, and will also have a roaming agreement with Verizon Wireless. Helio's $29 per month rate plan will get you unlimited talk, text and data — sounds great right? Except that Ubi also seems to believe that customers are nostalgic for the days of dial-up Internet, because Helio will cap data speeds at 128kbps — so you can wave goodbye to any thoughts of streaming music or video.

On the hardware front, you can either sign up with your own phone (limited to devices compatible with compatible with Sprint, Boost Mobile, Virgin Mobile and Assurance Wireless), or buy one from their rather outdated selection that includes a Galaxy S4 for $299, Galaxy S III for $249, Galaxy Epic 4G for $49, or a Kyocera Kona flip phone for $89.

Regardless of their slow speeds, Helio may provide a viable alternative for those looking for basic and super cheap service. However, Helio's website makes no mention of whether or when it will offer faster service [so you'll need to be content with browsing the web like it's 2007]. To sweeten the deal for customers, the company says it will give new subscribers their first month of service free, but with the rise of other virtual network operators like Google's Project Fi, Helio will have to fight to (re)live.