(MoneyWatch) With the proliferation of no-contract wireless carriers and Wi-Fi-only phone service, the times certainly are a-changin' for cellular phones.
One of the last completely untapped frontiers: rollover data. While it's possible to find cellular plans that roll over voice minutes from month to month, until recently no one allowed you to roll over data. This feature is coming not from one of the big carriers like AT&T, Verizon or T-Mobile, but rather from Pure TalkUSA.
It's entirely possible that you've never heard of Pure TalkUSA. Flying under the radar of most mainstream cell phone users, the Covington, Ga., company has found a niche among mobile phone users looking for simple and inexpensive cell plans. The company boasts that it operates on "the nation's largest GSM network," and in fact leases bandwidth from AT&T. That means that not only can you choose from Pure TalkUSA's selection of phones or bring an unlocked phone, you can use an AT&T locked phone with Pure TalkUSA just by swapping SIM cards.
The really interesting news is that Pure Talk has bundled rollover data into what it calls its "flex" plan. The plan starts at $10 a month for 130 talk minutes and goes up in $10 increments to $50 for 1,430 minutes. For an additional $10 a month, you get 150MB of data, the unused balance of which rolls over from month to month.
Pure TalkUSA offers other plans, including 1GB/month of data, though rollover data isn't available at that level.
Is this the start of a new trend in wireless plans? Probably not. After all, AT&T has long offered rollover voice, and other carriers have failed to adopt that feature. But voice minutes are increasingly archaic. Today's mobile phone usage is all about data and Internet access. It will be interesting to see if Pure TalkUSA's rollover data experiment catches on with the major carriers.