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Prepaid Wireless Tracker, April 2011 - Leap Trying to Catch-Up With LightSquared 4G Deal
April 01, 2011

Prepaid Wireless Tracker - April 2011 Issue


Prepaid wireless is a growing and truly exciting industry.  At Prepaid Wireless Guide I try to provide you with in-depth information that isn't readily available anywhere else.  Its content is original, and created from firsthand experience working in the prepaid wireless industry.

This monthly email provides you with a quick glance at what's in the news so that you can easily keep informed.  I believe in brief, to-the-point summaries/commentary so that you can move onto other tasks in your day.  Each snippet includes a link to the original story should you be interested in the full details.

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MetroPCS Narrows Gap Between Postpaid, Prepaid Offerings in Record-Setting Year
With strong results reported for 2010, MetroPCS is stating that the future holds very little distinction between prepaid and postpaid offerings.  I couldn’t agree more.  Particularly as high quality Android smartphones become more and more affordable for carriers to offer at attractive price points, postpaid really is going to suffer.  With better national coverage than in recent years, and LTE already deployed, MetroPCS really is staged to be a formidable force.  As for getting Snoop Dogg as a spokesperson, those of us who have been in the wireless industry long enough know that customers don’t care about celebrity endorsements when it comes down to their actual purchase decision.  While it may be cool for a brief moment, most people don’t have any rapport with the celebrity lifestyle, and are too smart to think that buying a phone that a celebrity is paid to use offers any real meaning; it all comes down to price, quality, and handset selection.  Save your money Metro!

Sprint Merger Talk Heats Up Again
Kansas City Star
While we all know by now that T-Mobile and AT&T are moving forward with a merger (assuming it’s approved), I thought it would be interesting to include this tidbit in here as a record of how fickle this industry, and the news in general, can be.  If this merger completes, Sprint will likely depend even more on the growth of its prepaid division to achieve results.  Whether or not Sprint and T-Mobile were ever in talks is still unknown, but this just goes to show that we need to be very careful where we get our news from!

Unauthorized Cricket Dealers Unlocking Verizon iPhones
I personally found this article to be somewhat puzzling.  It’s a well known fact that Cricket has a specific “Customer Provided Equipment” program that enables customers to use any compatible (CDMA) phone on Cricket’s network.  To say this was unauthorized seems a little bit odd.  Notwithstanding, so long as customers are not within a contract, they should be able to do whatever they want with their phones; at least that’s my opinion.

Proposed Fee From Prepaid Cell Phones to Fund 911 Call Centers
I’ve discussed this topic in the past, but it’s certainly here to stay.  I think it goes without saying that prepaid wireless has been dodging this inevitability.  As much as I dislike additional fees, prepaid needs to contribute its fair share to 911 services.  This really was an oversight initially when legislators didn’t see prepaid wireless as a strong market force.  With major postpaid wireless carriers dismissing prepaid as a competitive threat (and paying dearly for this mistake), how could anyone have expected legislators to be any smarter?!

AT&T Reveals Monthly Billing for Tablets, First Month Free
Hot Hardware
AT&T will continue to offer prepaid pricing for its tablets.  With the prepaid forces strongly at work in the industry currently, eliminating a prepaid offer would certainly have devastating results.  Verizon has also taken the same stance.

Is Apple Considering a Low-Cost/Prepaid iPhone?
Similar to the evolution of its iPod lineup, Apple will inevitably introduce additional iPhone models.  I personally don’t feel that it needs to necessarily offer lower end models only for prepaid.  Apple simply needs to bring down the manufacturing cost of its current model (which it should now have with the volume it’s seeing), in addition to offering more variety.  At this point in the game, offering only one model is going to limit its growth potential, as better, more capable, and less expensive Android phones continue to penetrate the market. 

MetroPCS Could Get Boost From AT&T/T-Mobile Deal
Investor's Business Daily
Hmm…I don’t know about this logic.  There may be some positive elements to yield from this deal; however, it’s certainly not going to be an overtly positive thing.  T-Mobile has never been a force in prepaid, so I don’t buy that.  Is this perhaps a media ploy to help raise the stock price, or at least to head off any panicking by the easily excitable?

LightSquared and Leap in 4G Deal
Leap notes that this deal is to help accelerate its ability to rollout 4G services, noting that it will take several years to complete its network upgrade.  This deal infers a vote of no confidence in Sprint’s 4G WiMAX technology, given that Leap already has a 3G data roaming agreement with Sprint.

Leap Plans Wi-Fi-Only ViewSonic Android Tablet
Looks like Cricket is bailing out on its previously announced Samsung Galaxy Tab launch in favor of a WiFi only ViewSonic Android tablet.  Those wanting anywhere, anytime data connectivity will need to bundle it with Cricket’s MiFi Crosswave device.  If priced right, I could see this device/bundle selling well.  It will, however, need to be quite compelling given the flurry of other tablets launching over the next 8-12 months.  This looks like a “testing the waters” type of strategy to me.  It will be interesting to see what happens.       

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