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Prepaid Wireless Tracker, August 2011 - Prepaid Carriers Begin Raising Data Prices
August 01, 2011

Prepaid Wireless Tracker - August 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.

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Virgin Mobile Bids Farewell to Unlimited Data Too
In addition to raising the price of its Beyond Talk plans, Virgin Mobile now limits data usage on its phones as well to 2.5GB, after which speed is throttled.  Note that they’re still advertising these plans as having unlimited data.  Technically I have no doubt that throttled plans are still unlimited, however, practically speaking, once throttled, it becomes unusable.  Though a throttled experience on a smartphone is much better than on a mobile broadband product, because apps for checking email and the like still allow you to interact normally, it just takes longer to receive mail.  Carriers really need to stop advertising “unlimited” with “throttled” in the small print.  Come on carriers, this is deceptive advertising regardless of what the letter of the law allows for.

Leap/Cricket Expands Roaming, Raises Prices All Three Prepaid Tiers by $5
Cricket brings nationwide data roaming to its prepaid broadband product (Broadband2Go), along with a $5 price increase across all plans.  Despite this increase, the plans remain competitive.

payLo by Virgin Mobile Increases Value for Talk 'n' Texters
MarketWatch (press release)
Virgin ups the value of its $30 plan, 1,500 min plan with a bump from 500 to 1,500 messages, and 10MB of data to 30MB of data.  Without seeing consumer data, it’s hard to know for sure, but this change may not carry much value, and be more of a marketing ploy.  The question of the day is whether feature phone users (even with a QWERTY keyboard) use more than 500 messages per month.  I believe that for most people, the answer to that question is “no”.  Likely a fairly low risk strategy for Virgin.

Verizon Maintains Unlimited Prepaid Smartphone Data for $30 Per Month
Gotta Be Mobile
It appears as though Verizon is still not taking prepaid seriously as they clearly don’t see the possible data usage as a threat.  I suppose that makes sense given the relatively low prepaid base they have.  Unless you’re a diehard Verizon fan, with the limited smartphone selection, and relatively uncompetitive pricing, there are certainly a myriad of more attractive offerings available at this point in time. 

Muve Music Wireless Download Service Rocks 100,000 Users (blog)
It’s great to see innovation in the industry.  I’m still not sure, though, whether 100K subscribers is good or not compared to their forecast.  I’m sure their forecast is publicly available; I just haven’t had a chance to review their documents.  Once they have Muve available on all of their smartphones, we’ll really see whether or not this service takes off.  I think the critical barrier to adoption is that people tend to want the ability to play their music from multiple devices, which isn’t currently possible with Muve.  Though if it’s included in the plan price, I have no doubt people will make use of it.  We’ll have to see if battery life becomes a usability issue, and whether Cricket can maintain profitability if it does take off.  I expect any meaningful adoption will require a price increase to support the network and licensing costs. 

Cox to Launch Prepaid Mobile Service
So long as Cox has a wireless service, it really needs to offer prepaid to stay in the game.  I’m not sure how their contract wireless service is going, but I suspect that customers looking for a bundle of service may find its prepaid service attractive.  Beyond that, it’s unlikely that they’ll capture any meaningful market share overall.

Will Postpaid Customers Defect to Prepaid Carriers With High-End Android Phones?
The short answer to this is “yes”!  As prepaid smartphone selection continues to improve as hardware pricing comes down, going prepaid will continue to make more and more sense.  Contrary to what the article says, the prepaid revolution started several years ago, and will continue to accelerate as the gap between postpaid and prepaid handset selection continues to narrow.

Huawei M835 Brings Affordable Android to MetroPCS
The Gadgets
While it’s certainly not a high end, sexy smartphone, it’s a decent addition to MetroPCS’ entry level lineup of prepaid Android phones.  Keep in mind that specs like these were on high end handsets on major postpaid carriers barely two years ago, and people from all demographics and carriers continue to happily use handsets with these specs.

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