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Prepaid Wireless Tracker, June 2011 - T-Mobile Beefs Up Data Plans, But Can It Still Compete?
June 01, 2011

Prepaid Wireless Tracker - June 2011 Issue

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T-Mobile USA Sweetens Prepaid Data Access Offerings
FierceBroadbandWireless
In the wake of stiff competition, as well as the pending AT&T merger, T-Mobile ups the ante by improving its prepaid data plans.  2GB of data on a smartphone certainly didn’t cut it; upping that to unlimited is a wise move.  Though, at $70, this plan is far from inspiring in the currently hyper-competitive prepaid landscape.

HP Offers Prepaid 3G Laptop Data Plans
Wireless Week
Certain lines of HP laptops will now offer prepaid HP Data Pass services running on the Sprint broadband network.  While I like the idea of prepaid broadband proliferation, to maximize the usefulness of data plans (whether prepaid or postpaid), a device that can be used by multiple PCs (ex. USB Modems, MiFi Hotspots) is probably a better route for most people.  Also, I think most people will find that pricing is nothing notably competitive compared to prepaid broadband plans already available in the market. 

Leap's Mixed Bag for Q1, Shares Up
Wireless Week
Despite its net losses, Cricket’s stats were looking good enough to give its stock a boost.  Despite the excitement and media around its Muve music unlimited model, if it doesn’t offer the service on its smartphones, I can’t see this product going anywhere.  Perhaps it’s an investment limitation, or a DRM issue that needs to be resolved at the handset level by its OEMs, I don’t know; however, notwithstanding, without a broader compatible handset rollout, in 12 months no one will be talking about Muve.  Hopefully that won’t be the case, and what we’re witnessing is a cautious rollout strategy.

Clearwire Drops Rover Prepaid WiMAX Brand
FierceWireless
I suppose it’s arguable that offering its own prepaid branded product (or any of its own branded products for that matter) never made any sense.  When I chatted with the Rover online support via their website, they noted that their product is still available, and no end date for product availability is currently known (or at least it’s not being shared!).  I suspect existing customers will simply migrate to a Sprint branded product with no contract.

AT&T Prepaid Fight vs. Verizon Wireless Unleashed Plan
Phones Review
It’s amusing to see AT&T and Verizon continue to attempt to make people, and the industry feel as though they’re still interested in the prepaid space.  Their pricing has come way down, however, still lacks true data (i.e. don’t be deceived by the pricing).  At some point they’ll need to either jump into prepaid wholeheartedly, or decide that their core prepaid business will remain in the MVNO space.

Verizon Adds $50 Unlimited Prepaid Plan
CNET (blog)
I’m really liking the Unleashed plans, however, excluding smartphones from this offer again speaks a “one-foot-in” mentality.  I’m still a large proponent of having ALL phones available on ALL plans, where only the price of the phone changes depending on whether it’s postpaid (i.e. subsidized) or prepaid.  I suppose only time will tell.

MetroPCS Worried Over T-Mobile Merger
Wall Street Journal
I suppose it goes without saying that MetroPCS (along with Cricket, Sprint, and a host of others) are concerned over the proposed AT&T, T-Mobile merger.  Despite AT&T’s arguments to the contrary, my gut tells me that such a merger would not be good for consumers in the long run.  It will be interesting to see how the case unfolds.

Sprint's Likely Buyer May Be CenturyLink After AT&T Deal
Bloomberg
The most interesting aspect of this article is the comment regarding Sprint buying MetroPCS or Leap (i.e. Cricket) as a means of growing its business to avoid a sale of the company.  Cricket is the obvious candidate as it has not shown the same strong performance as has Metro, and it already has roaming and MVNO agreements in place with Cricket.  That said, I really can’t believe that a purchase of either of these carriers (or even both of them) would do anything for Sprint’s position in the marketplace, other than to solidify its fate as a prepaid wireless carrier as its postpaid business continues to struggle.

Leap $400M Debt Offering May Spur LTE Deployment
Wireless Week
Cricket clearly needs to prove itself in 2011 in order to remain off of the chopping block.  While I’m not sure whether a $400 investment in 4G is going to keep them competitive, it appears to have all of the right pieces in place.  The big question is whether they lagged too far behind to jump back into the game.  No doubt that brilliant execution will have a lot to do with the future health of the company.

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PrepaidWirelessGuy

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