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Prepaid Wireless Tracker, Sept 2011 - Prepaid Wireless On The Decline - The Analysts Have It Wrong!
September 01, 2011

Prepaid Wireless Tracker - September 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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Prepaid Wireless Market Hits a Snag
CNET (blog)
Yes, prepaid wireless results in Q2 were disappointing across the board, and even lower than projected, however, to report doom and gloom for the prepaid wireless industry is simply irresponsible reporting in my opinion.  The media really has become so sensationalist that it’s becoming somewhat irritating.  Even more than that, the media can actual drive consumer opinions and confidence, which can lead to changes in buying behaviors, and in itself affect the economy.  Anyway, prepaid wireless isn’t going anywhere, and growth will certainly continue for years to come.

Verizon Wireless Could Expand Unlimited Prepaid Plan
Wall Street Journal (blog)
Verizon’s success with its trial unlimited Unleashed plan has shown success, and it plans on rolling it out to additional markets.  Verizon is claiming that it has been able to expand it prepaid penetration while avoiding cannibalization of its postpaid customers.  While it was late to the game, the Verizon Unleashed plan is well positioned to compete with the best of them.  It will be interesting to see how widely, and quickly they're willing to expand the program.

Samsung Galaxy Precedent Headed for Straight Talk Wireless
While it’s not a high end device, it’s a very capable smartphone on the exclusive-to-Walmart Straight Talk plan.  For $150 for an essentially re-badged Samsung Prevail (offered by Boost Mobile), you’re getting some pretty decent specs.

Virgin's Triumph Smartphone vs. Sprint's Photon
USA Today
There’s no doubt that prepaid carriers are launching much more capable smartphones than even earlier this year.  I predict that by the end of 2012 no one will be able to use the excuse of prepaid having low end smartphones as a reason to jump ship on contract plans.

Virgin Mobile takes on T-Mobile
While I’m not sure how fair of a comparison Virgin vs. T-Mobile is, I suppose that with T-Mobile struggling in the postpaid world, and its impending purchase by AT&T, it’s certainly focusing on prepaid a lot these days.  Make no mistake, Virgin is out there fighting anyone who dares add more focus to prepaid.  The article notes that prepaid is generally for people with lower income or credit scores; that’s long been seen as an old way of thinking, and certainly is not the case.  As smartphones become lower priced and higher quality even on the low end, it’s becoming even less appealing to sign a contract and usually even pay more for service on a postpaid plan.

Sprint Opens The Door to More Prepaid WiMAX
PC Magazine
Sprint will allow its MVNOs to sell 4G services.  They definitively note that its Boost and Virgin brands won’t be selling 4G.  It really is amazing how fearful the Sprint mother ship is when it comes to the possibility of its prepaid business cannibalizing its postpaid business.  Ultimately, in order to compete with prepaid carriers launching 4G services, Sprint will need to seriously revisit this decision, which I expect will need to happen as soon as the latter half of 2012.

WIND Mobile Introduces a Prepaid Option Called “Pay Your Way”
This is really interesting.  While WIND launched its service in Canada with the basic fundamentals of an unlimited no contract wireless carrier, it’s now launching classic pay-as-you-go service.  It just goes to show that the legacy pay-per-minute model is still a need in the marketplace.  It will be interesting to see how much of their business will be split between pay-per-minute and monthly unlimited. 

MetroPCS Starts Unlimited Music Plan With Rhapsody
The Associated Press
Given the success of Cricket’s unlimited Muve music, it’s no wonder that Metro is jumping on board as well.  However, I truly don’t know whether Metro started working on its service long before Cricket saw any success.  These types of services ultimately take a long time to put together.  Regardless, it will be interesting to see how these services pan out in the long run.  It seems like a good deal for customers, and even artists, however, the iTunes type of model is so ingrained, I’m not confident that these carrier services will make any meaningful behavioral changes in the larger market.

Sprint & T-Mobile Top Postpaid Satisfiers, Boost Mobile, MetroPCS & Virgin Mobile
Wireless and Mobile News
On the prepaid wireless front, Boost Mobile came in first, followed by MetroPCS, then Virgin Mobile.  I'll leave it to you to conclude whether or not these conclusions make sense...

H2O Wireless Can Turn Unlocked iPhone and Android Devices Into Pre-Paid
H2O has an app that will re-program your iPhone to work on their network.  I’ve never seen such a simple re-flashing process.  Usually it involves finding a dealer that has a custom ROM, and the know-how to properly complete the process.  I’d really like to see this application in action!  Of course, better yet would be the availability of an iPhone on major prepaid carriers; it’s only a matter of time!

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