Prepaid Wireless Tracker
- January 2015 Issue #79
wireless is a growing and truly exciting industry. At
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– The Year Of Prepaid Wireless Maturity!
This past year was a significant
year for the prepaid wireless industry as it further ingrained itself
into the mainstream. We saw T-Mobile fiercely launch its
campaign by eliminating its contract business in favor of device
financing. We saw AT&T double down with its purchase
(and elimination of Aio), and continuous battles between carriers
trying to steal customers with cash back offers, and double data plans
The fact is that the entire wireless market, including
prepaid is essentially over 100% penetrated.
Thus, the growth
in the mid-2000s is over. It’s now all about
postpaid. 2014 represented bipolar behavior amongst the large
carriers who see the writing on the wall, however, are fearful to
cannibalize their more profitable postpaid customers too
Hence, while holding onto postpaid customers in one hand, they enhanced
their prepaid offers on the other.
Verizon was the only
carrier to resist developing its prepaid offers. In the short
they’ll benefit with higher revenue and profits, however, in
term they’ll suffer the wrath when postpaid subscribership
begins to accelerate.
Lastly, we saw BYOD (Bring Your Own
Device) offers (and dedicated BYOD providers) proliferate this past
year as the obvious customer acquisition strategy, particularly as 4G
LTE technology, and multi-network capable phones became the standard.
can expect next year to show a material acceleration of postpaid
decline, and customers experimenting with different prepaid providers
via BYOD programs. Carriers will need to focus on customer
overall customer experience, as we’ll be free to change
little to no cost/consequence.
The barrier to new (non-BYOD)
customer acquisition will be the cost of a new smartphone.
incentives and innovation in finance/leasing programs will be
additional points of focus in the coming year.
Cricket Wireless Attempts To Steal Customers
With $100 Credit
you’re thinking about switching to Cricket from one
carriers, this would be a good time. However, a $100 credit
isn’t a compelling offer to speak of. For example,
T-Mobile will pay
your early termination fee up to $350. Unless you have a
GSM phone, you’re going to have to pay many hundreds of
dollars for a
new phone making the credit almost meaningless at that point.
they up the offer to $300, then they would actually have a very
Sprint Prepaid Offers 1 Month Free In Best
has been floundering with its Sprint Prepaid service since it initially
launched. I can’t imagine that a one month free
offer will have
impact whatsoever. Compared to the price of purchasing the
phone, which will be locked to the Sprint network, the value of a free
month is wholly uninspiring.
Most prepaid carriers used to
offer the first month free as standard, however, the return policy
resulted in major cost issues with customers returning phones and
purchasing new ones on a monthly basis. Yes, believe it or
would do this! So much so that carriers have since eliminated
If they want to truly shake things up, they need to
offer 3-6 months free, and/or offer 50-75% off the phone purchase (with
no finance charges, contracts, or other early termination
likely happened is that Best Buy requested a promo, and this is the
fastest, easiest offer they could put together. Sorry Best
but this won’t move the needle!
NetZero Wireless Offers Free Phone
to the sentiment of the article, I also almost completely forgot about
this Sprint MVNO! NetZero is definitely a respectable option
those looking for basic, straightforward service, and a low end phone
that you can get for free. It really is amazing how many
Sprint has on its network.
I regularly get inquiries from people
wanting to start their own MVNO, which truly surprises me given the
cost to startup, operate, and market a new service. The
is that aside from a few of them, most MVNOs don’t offer any
that are truly innovative to meet the needs of any particular niche.
it makes sense for NetZero to offer
phone service as part of its
portfolio, I believe most MVNOs are simply seeking to acquire
sufficient customers to sell out to a larger carrier for a relatively
large payout. Personally, I would stick to the larger prepaid
providers unless you go with an MVNO that is offering a truly
customized experience to meet your individual needs (like BYO Wireless
Wireless Launches GSM 4G LTE & Doubles Data
data offers are nice, however, my objective here is to highlight an
MVNO that actually offers some really compelling plans that range from
$5 to $70. They’re a Bring Your Own Device
so if you’ve got a phone lying around that you want to make
this is a great option. They support CDMA and GSM
without their double data promotion, their higher plans
competitive, so hopefully they’ll convert it to their regular
pricing. It’s not unusual for carriers to test new
promos so they can learn about its appeal and costs before making it
BYOD is really the future of all wireless in this
country. Particularly given the quality of phones in recent
years, there are just so many fantastic phones still out there that
people can make great use of without having to spend hundreds of
dollars (or sign a contract) to get a new phone that is only marginally
better than one we already have collecting dust in their drawers.
Sprint Launches First Windows Phones on
Boost & Virgin
makes sense for prepaid to also offer Windows phones, which is great
because that translates into more competition and options for
customers. Cricket has had Windows phones for awhile, so this
nothing new to prepaid.
Also, given Microsoft’s desperate need
to gain presence in the phone/mobile OS game, there’s pretty
in Windows smartphones. While I personally haven’t
people I know who have swear by them. I truly believe
viable option, despite the fact that Windows will likely never get
close to iOS or Android market share.
Feedback? I'd love to hear from you. Just reply to this zine and
tell me what you think!
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