Photo representing the concept of "update"

Visible Updates

Last week, Verizon’s flanker brand, Visible, launched a major update. Previously, Visible offered only one plan. The plan included unlimited minutes, texts, and data. It had a base price of $40 per month, but the price dropped as low as $25 with Visible’s Party Pay program.

With Visible’s latest update, the carrier is retiring Party Pay and offering two plans:

  • Visible’s standard plan: $30 per month
  • Visible+ plan: $45 per month

Standard Plan

Visible’s standard plan includes unlimited minutes, texts, and data. As was the case with Visible’s old plan, data is low priority. Subscribers may experience slower speeds than other users on the network during periods of congestion.

With Visible’s standard plan, subscribers can access Verizon’s LTE and 5G Nationwide services. (5G Nationwide is Verizon’s term for it’s low-frequency 5G service. 5G Nationwide has extensive coverage, but the speeds may fall short of the hype around 5G.)

Visible+

The Visible+ plan has a $15 per month premium and comes with a few extra perks. The first 50GB of data each month is high priority. Additionally, subscribers can access Verizon’s Ultra Wideband service, which offers better performance in some places. Visible+ also includes international texting and calling to some destinations.

Network Improvements?

A common complaint about Visible is that latency with the service can be substantially worse than latency on a Verizon-branded plan. I don’t understand all the details, but Visible has historically had some underlying infrastructure that differs from Verizon’s typical infrastructure. A press release covering the recent changes suggests some improvements are on the way:

Existing members can move to these new plans at any time through their Visible account. A new SIM will be required, as Visible is also expanding coverage and upgrading the core network routing experience in conjunction with these plans, which should provide customers with improved speeds and latency.

Existing Customers

For the moment, existing customers can continue with the old plan and Party Pay rates as low as $25 per month. Here’s another bit from the press release:

Existing Visible members have the option to maintain their Party Pay discount while on their current plan and will have their Party Pay rates locked in based on their Party status as of October 18, 2022.

It looks like Visible will force all subscribers to transition to the new plans (and abandon Party Pay) around the start of 2023.

My Take

While service will increase from $25 to $30 for many users, I think most of these changes are great. Party Pay has always been a bit weird, and part of me is glad to see it going away. Perhaps its retirement will pave the way for Visible offering better options for family plans or combined billing.

While low-priority data is fine for many users, it can be a pain in some regions or for subscribers that want peak performance. I’m glad Visible is giving customers the option of paying up for a better experience.

While I’m unsure what the changes to Visible’s routing system entail, I’m hopefully that between (a) those upgrades, (b) high priority data, and (c) Ultra Wideband access, Visible+ will offer service on par with Verizon’s premium plans.

I’m somewhat surprised that the standard Visible plan doesn’t include access to Verizon’s Ultra Wideband. I expect that will change eventually. Dropping restrictions on who can access Ultra Wideband will lead to more efficient use of Verizon’s network capacity and spectrum. If Verizon wants different tiers of service quality, it can throttle or deprioritize Ultra Wideband service on low-cost plans.

For incoming subscribers wondering whether to choose Visible’s standard plan or Visible+, my advice at the moment is to start with the standard plan. You can always consider upgrading if you regularly find yourself with decent signal strength but lousy speeds.

Paint roller being used to repaint

Visible’s “By Verizon” Rebrand

Visible, Verizon’s low-cost flanker brand, has been making its connection with Verizon more explicit. Here’s how the Visible logo used to appear on the header of its website:

Recently, the words “by Verizon” have been tacked on:

Visible logo showing the words "by Verizon"

The new branding suggests a change in strategy. Previously, Visible was coy about its relationship with Verizon. That was almost certainly by design. A major carrier doesn’t want its low-cost brands to cannibalize the higher-profit subscribers of the mainstream brand.

While it was never difficult to figure out that Verizon owned Visible, I expect a fair share of the carrier’s subscribers were unaware. With Visible’s relationship to Verizon now in the front and center, Visible may be more appealing to consumers. On the other hand, the rebranding may lead to pressures to create further discrepancies between the service quality received by Visible’s subscribers and Verizon’s direct subscribers.

Blocks showing the calendar date February 22

Visible 2For22 + $200 Gift Card Deal Is Back (Kinda)

Since February 2, Verizon’s prepaid brand Visible has been running a promotion where new subscribers can get their first two months of service for $22 ($11 per month). For the first few days of the promotion, customers porting in numbers were usually eligible for a $200 gift card.

While short-lived, Visible’s $200 gift card deal may have been the most aggressive promotion I’ve ever seen from a prepaid carrier. After the initial days of the promo, gift cards were still available, but their values dropped to either $50 or $100.

On February 22, Visible is re-offering its $200 gift card deal. The offer is only available for 24 hours. You can find more details here.

Note that while bring-your-own-device (BYOD) customers were eligible for the initial $200 gift card deal, it doesn’t look like BYOD customers are eligible at the time of writing. This is a surprise to me, and I wonder if Visible might change the promotion’s policies before the end of the day.

Terms

To be eligible for a promotional gift card, customers must port in a number from an eligible carrier and make three payments. All the major carriers and most big MVNOs count as eligible carriers. You can find a full list of eligible carriers here. Google Voice and US Mobile are notably absent from the list.

More details can be found in my original blog post about the 2For22 deal.

The word "update" spelled on blocks

Visible 2For22 Promo Update

With Visible’s 2For22 promo, new customers can get the first two months of service for $11 each. Customers who port in a number may also be eligible for a free gift card. Originally, Visible planned to offer a $200 gift card on February 2 only and a $100 gift card for the rest of the promotional period.

After experiencing technical issues that made it difficult for some users to signup, Visible has extended the availability of the $200 gift card through 11:59pm ET tonight. Skeptics might wonder whether Visible was planning this extension ahead of time. I don’t think so. People on Reddit reported signup issues. I also got an email yesterday afternoon asking me to temporarily take down my content about the promotion because of technical issues.

More details about the 2For22 promo can be found on Visible’s website or in my original post.

Image representing idea idea of February & the number 22

Visible Offers $100 Gift Card + 2 Months For $22

6:47pm update: The period of this promo where a $200 gift card is available may be extended slightly. I’ll share a more detailed update later.

Second update: As pointed out by a commenter, BYOP customers are now eligible for just a $50 gift card rather than a $100 gift card.


Until February 24, Verizon’s brand Visible is running what might be the biggest promotion in its history. New customers can purchase two months of service on the carrier’s unlimited plan for just $22 ($11 per month). Two months of service normally costs $80 at full price (or as low as $50 with Visible Party Pay).

Free Gift Card

New subscribers during the promotion may also be eligible for a $100 gift card if they port in a number and bring their own device or purchase a select device during signup. Today only (February 2), the gift card amount is doubled from $100 to $200.

If you’re considering Visible, now might be the best time to give the carrier a try. With the reduced rate on the first two months and $25 per month after that with Visible Party Pay, a $200 gift card essentially works out to nine months of free service. For customers that take advantage of the promo between February 3 and February 24, the $100 gift card is worth enough to cancel out the cost of the first five months of service.

Signup

Visible’s 2For22 deal is one of the best promotions I’ve seen from a prepaid carrier. You can find more details about the promo here. Use the promo code 2FOR22 at checkout.

Terms

The 2For22 promo is only available to new customers. Customers must port in a number from an eligible carrier and make at least three payments to be eligible for the promotional gift card. All the major carriers and most of the bigger MVNOs count as eligible carriers.

The gift card comes as a virtual gift card, and it looks like customers can opt for a card from one of several companies. Gift card options at the moment include Mastercard, Amazon, and several other large retailers.

Here are the full terms from Visible:

Offer disclosure: New members who (1) purchase a qualifying device or bring their own, (2) transfer their existing phone number from an Eligible Carrier within 14 days of transaction , [sic] (3) activate their Visible service, & (4) complete 3 full months’ service payments, are eligible to receive up to a $200 virtual gift card, redeemable via a promo code, which is valid for a select offering on https://www.visibleoffers.com.

Device & promo eligibility is subject to change. Specific gift card values are limited to a devices’ displayed gift card value at time of transaction, as found here. This promotion is fulfilled through a 3rd-party, Blackhawk Network Holdings, Inc., and may be subject to additional policies and terms.

Limit 1 virtual gift card per member per device . [sic] The promo code is itself not a gift card and has no cash value. Promo code and redemption instructions will be emailed to the member after qualification. While supplies last. Limited time offer. Can only be combined with other Visible promos where indicated.

Visible reserves the right to change or terminate this offer at any time. If Visible, in its sole discretion, determines that a member has engaged in abuse, misuse, or gaming in connection with this offer, or that the member intends to do so, Visible reserves the right to disqualify the member from this promotion.

Gift card vendor list is variable and subject to change. Gift Card redemption promotion code is valid for redemption with third-party for 30 days. Valid for up to 12 months; unused funds will forfeit after expiration date. Gift card to be fulfilled digitally; physical cards will not be issued. Gift card vendor-specific terms and conditions may apply; see gift card for additional details.

Eligible Carriers

Almost everyone porting into Visible will be coming from an eligible carrier. Exceptions include subscribers coming from Google Voice or US Mobile. Here’s the list of eligible carriers from Visible’s website:

  • AT&T
  • AT&T Prepaid
  • Boost Mobile
  • Consumer Cellular
  • Cricket Wireless
  • Google Fi
  • MetroPCS
  • Mint Mobile
  • Net10 Wireless
  • Page Plus Cellular
  • Republic Wireless
  • Spectrum Mobile
  • Sprint
  • Straight Talk
  • T-Mobile
  • T-Mobile Prepaid
  • Ting
  • Total Wireless
  • TracFone
  • US Cellular
  • Verizon
  • Virgin Mobile USA
  • Walmart Family Mobile
  • Xfinity Mobile
Decorative, abstract spiral

Moto G Pure Added To Visible’s Swap Program

I’ve been a big fan of Visible’s Swap Program since it launched. Under the program, new Visible subscribers can trade in almost any working phone in exchange for a new phone free of charge. Since the program started, Visible has gradually improved the quality of the phones it offers.

Sometime in the last few months, Visible added the Motorola moto g pure to the Swap Program. The g pure typically costs about $150. While I haven’t tested it myself, I’m a long-time fan of the Motorola g line.

eSIM abstract

Visible Launches eSIM Free Trial

Verizon’s flanker brand Visible just launched an eSIM free trial program. The trial offers 15 days of Visible’s standard plan with unlimited minutes, texts, and data. At the moment, it’s only available for recent iPhones (iPhone XR/XS and newer iPhones). No payment information is needed to sign up.

Sign-up Process

The sign-up process took me about ten minutes. I scanned Visible’s QR code, got the Visible app, and followed some straightforward instructions. I had to provide an email, but I wasn’t required to jump through hoops or provide billing information.

Multiple Numbers

Visible assigns a temporary number to each eSIM. If you join Visible after the trial, you can keep the temporary number or port in an existing number.

If you’d like to use multiple numbers in tandem during the trial (e.g., you want to trial Visible but also keep running your normal number and service), it’s easy. During setup, trial users select which SIM card should be used for each of three different services:

  • Regular calls & texts
  • iMessage
  • Data

In most cases, I’d suggest people trialing Visible let their original SIM card handle calls, texts, and iMessage while Visible handles data.

A Preview Of Things To Come?

Visible’s trial highlights how eSIMs could make the market for cell service more consumer-friendly. Potential Visible subscribers often wonder whether a low-price service can really offer good performance. Some people question whether congestion will lead to lousy speeds since Visible doesn’t get high-priority data. Now that Visible has a trial, there’s no need for guesswork.

Eligibility Details

The iPhone XR/XS and more recent iPhones running iOS 14+ are eligible for the free trial. Support for eSIM devices running Android is supposedly coming soon. Here’s how Visible responds to an FAQ entry about eligibility:

Anyone who is not currently a Visible member, or someone that has not participated in the trial in the past 12 months. If you meet these criteria, then all you need is an eligible iPhone device with eSIM capability to participate.

Full List Of Eligible Devices

  • iPhone SE (second generation)
  • iPhone 13
  • iPhone 13 Pro
  • iPhone 13 Pro Max
  • iPhone 13 mini
  • iPhone 12
  • iPhone 12 Pro
  • iPhone 12 Pro Max
  • iPhone 12 mini
  • iPhone 11
  • iPhone 11 Pro
  • iPhone 11 Pro Max
  • iPhone XR
  • iPhone XS
  • iPhone XS Max
A red flag

Service Outage At Visible

Verizon’s flanker brand Visible has had a rough time the past few weeks. First, a security issue caused trouble for a large number of subscribers earlier this month. Then yesterday, reports of a service outage started to surface.

Several Reddit posts and dozens of comments mentioned the outage. I’m not sure how much of Visible’s subscriber base was affected.1 The issue was widespread enough for Visible to acknowledge the issue on Twitter:


Reports suggest the outage only lasted a few hours. Shortly after sharing its initial tweet, Visible noted that the outage was resolved:

I haven’t heard anything about the underlying cause of the outage.

Update icon

Visible Security Update

Earlier today, Visible shared a few tweets with updates on the security issue I posted about yesterday. Here’s the important bit:

Our investigation indicates that threat actors were able to access username/passwords from outside sources, and exploit that information to login to Visible accounts.

Taking Visible at face value, it looks like the attacker is exploiting information leaked in an unrelated data breach.1 Consequently, I’m not sure it’s entirely accurate to say Visible was hacked.2

I’m not sure what end game the attacker has planned. It sounds like many people are seeing fraudulent phone orders charged to the billing information on file in compromised accounts. Even if the fraudulent orders are fulfilled, it should be easy for Visible to track down the culprit. After all, the company knows where each phone is sent. Maybe I’m missing something.

Spitballing, I came up with a few possibilities:

  • Fraudulent orders could be a red herring to distract from the attacker’s real goal.
  • Multiple attackers could be working independently with the same compromised data.
  • An attacker could compromise numerous accounts and send phones to a large number of addresses. If only a small portion of the addresses were under the attacker’s control, it would be difficult and expensive for Visible to track down the attacker.

I don’t find any of these possibilities particularly likely. It’ll be interesting to see how this plays out.

A lock

Visible Will Lock Phones For 60 Days

On Friday, Verizon’s flanker brand Visible announced that it will lock phones customers purchase from its online store for sixty days. Phones will automatically unlock after sixty days of service with Visible.

The announcement mentioned an exemption to the rules for members of the military. While Visible suggests customers can make international calls while a phone is locked, rules around international roaming aren’t made explicit:

Locked devices will still work as normal on Visible, and will still be able to make calls internationally to Canada, Mexico, US Virgin Islands, and Puerto Rico. And for those serving in the military, Visible will be able to unlock devices before the 60 day period if you are being deployed outside of the Visible service area.
I’m inclined to think Visible’s locked phones won’t work by default with international carriers.

My take

The updates to Visible’s policy are reasonable. Without the policy change, Visible would be at higher risk of people taking advantage of promotions that incentivize new customers. Before Friday’s announcement, I think Visible only locked phones customers acquired through the carrier’s swap program.