Back to Back Issues Page
Prepaid Wireless Tracker #62, August 2013 - AT&T Saves Cricket In $1.2 Billion Purchase!
August 01, 2013

Prepaid Wireless Tracker - August 2013 Issue #62


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

This monthly email provides you with a quick glance at what's trending 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.

If you like this e-zine, please do a friend and me a big favor and "pay it forward."  If a friend DID forward this to you and if you like what you read, please subscribe to Prepaid Wireless Tracker.

AT&T Saves Leap In $1.2 Billion Deal

This acquisition is literally a life-saver for Cricket, which has been struggling to achieve profitability for years.  The fact is that it's simply to expensive for Cricket to compete on a national level now that prepaid competition is so fierce.  Struggling to achieve relevance in the prepaid market, AT&T plans to use the Cricket brand to expand.  It seems like a great match; whether it ultimately pays off for AT&T still remains to be seen.  Although some argue that AT&T is overpaying for Cricket, the fact is that the cost is but a rounding error on its balance sheet, and the spectrum itself that it will be acquiring makes the deal worthwhile.  For a detailed discussion please visit my complete AT&T Cricket Takeover discussion.

Cricket Wireless Launches New Smartphone Financing Programs

As of July 21st, Cricket now offers three phone financing programs that accommodate customers with good credit, down to those with no credit that doesn't require a credit check at all.  Cricket is definitely aggressively targeting customers who are used to getting subsidized phones on contract, as well as those that can't get postpaid, but want the latest and greatest (i.e. expensive) smartphones.  How successful these types of programs will be is still unknown, however, we've seen a lot of movement and creativity in this space this year as competition continues to heat up.  You can read more of my thoughts on this topic in the comments section at the bottom of the article!

T-Mobile Jump Program Allows Upgrades Every 6 Months
Chicago Tribune

T-Mobile's new Jump program allows you to upgrade your phone every six months, however, it requires an additional $10 monthly fee to participate, as well as a down payment on top of the $20 per month financing fee that continues until the phone is paid off, or you upgrade to a new phone, whichever comes first.  I don't know about you, but around the six month point I've got everything setup on my phone the way I want it, and I'm fully comfortable with all of the settings and navigation that has taken time to customize and get used to.  At that point I'm happy to cruise along for a least another 6-12 months before even wanting to deal with the hassle of an upgrade.  Not to mention that replacing a phone usually requires buying a new screen protector and case.  Moreover, it takes at least a year or more for technology to evolve to the point where an upgrades feels worthwhile.  Although I like the fact that T-Mobile has unbundled the cost of the phone from the service plan, I think Jump is more of a hassle than it's worth, and if you don't time it correctly, you won't benefit from the extra cost to participate in this upgrade program.

Verizon Seeks International Opportunities For Growth
Channel Partners
There's no doubt that Verizon is the most powerful and successful wireless company in the U.S., and that expanding internationally is a sound business plan.  However, that said, as it relates to growth in the U.S., I expect that five years from now Verizon will be showing a material decline as prepaid continues to dominate sales.  As Verizon's prepaid programs are essentially uncompetitive, Verizon will be far behind the curve.  If Verizon isn't interested in growing prepaid by implementing or acquiring prepaid brands, I predict that it will ultimately compete by implementing more competitive financing options.  For example, to compete with prepaid, all it needs to do is decouple its handset subsidies from its service plans, and allow customers who prefer to avoid contracts to simply add the financing cost to their monthly plan.  Verizon recently went on record stating that it will be leveraging its own strong brand rather than trying to create a distinct prepaid brand presence.  Verizon's Unleashed prepaid brand seems to have completely disappeared, clearly indicating Verizon's confidence in its own brand.  When the time is right Verizon will seek to expand its core brand to appeal to no contract customers.  Arguably, even if it's late to the game, turning around its prepaid presence will be quite easy once it begins offering competitive plans.

Tempo Telecom Launches Launches Prepaid With Low-Priced Plans

Tempo offers monthly, pay-as-you-go, and monthly unlimited plans on the Sprint network.  They convert everything to voice minutes (3 SMS = 1 voice min, 1MB = 2 min), which is unique, and despite an apparent desire to simplify, seems to make things more complicated to grasp for end-users.  They do, however, have rollover of minutes, which is a nice feature.  Another odd thing I noticed is that some of the phones on their website have Boost Mobile branding on them.  Even if they were selling off Boost overstock, I would hope they would reflash them to remove competitor branding.  Only you can decide whether their plans meet your personal needs, but overall I can't help but question whether or not the country needs yet another MVNO?!

One Third Of All Smartphones Sales Now Prepaid
I always enjoy these headlines as continued evidence that prepaid is growing as I predicted five years ago.  Despite wireless saturation in general (i.e. almost 100% penetration = everyone who wants a cell phone now has at least one), prepaid penetration continues to grow, further accelerated by the growth in smartphones on prepaid, and at the expense of postpaid.

What's New At

  • Updated content on 4G Phones & added link to Cricket Galaxy S4 Review
  • Added Cricket Samsung Galaxy Admire 2 to 4G Phones

Comments? Ideas? Feedback? I'd love to hear from you. Just reply to this zine and tell me what you think!

View Prepaid Wireless Tracker Back Issues.           

Prepaid Wireless Guide Logo
Back to Back Issues Page