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Prepaid Wireless Tracker #81, March 2015 - Government Cracks Down On Carriers Abusing Unlimited!
March 01, 2015

Prepaid Wireless Tracker - March 2015 Issue #81


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.

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U.S. Government Punishing Carriers Who Abuse "Unlimited" Offers
Motley Fool

When carriers first launched unlimited plans, for all intents and purposes, they truly were unlimited full speed plans.  Carriers always reserved the right to throttle or shut off customers who abused the plans, and their thresholds for unreasonable usage were actually very fair.  However, as data usage increased in general, they began throttling at limits that average users would actually hit.  Yet they could still call them "unlimited" as you still had data access, albeit at a much reduced speed.

As customers became more savvy about this marketing lingo/propaganda, carriers started marketing how much high speed data each plan had.  Once you reached your limit, some carriers would simply throttle you, while others would shut you off.  That brings us to today where some carriers are still advertising "unlimited," however, are shutting people off when they reach a given threshold, which is not very high.  This is what the FTC is cracking down on.  In fact, they're even getting sensitive to carriers who don't shut off customers, but just throttle them.  Realistically, marketing the amount of high speed data is the only appropriate strategy at this point.  The bottom line is that customers need to understand how much data we need, and understand how our plans work!

Cricket Wireless Continues to Beef Up Data Buckets
Ubergizmo (blog)

As expected, carriers are continuing to increase the data allowance on their plans as aggressive competition continues.  Prepaid has become an increasingly more mature market, and as such, increasing value is the easiest way to compete without continuing to erode pricing.  While I believe the jury is still out as to whether Cricket can profitably expand its business, it's good to see data value increasing as one the most relevant plan features for customers in today's data centric market.

GoPhone Adds $30 Plan
Prepaid Reviews (blog)

GoPhone, an AT&T brand, which also competes with its subsidiary Cricket, is going downstream with a new $30 plan.  The plan includes unlimited talk and text, however, doesn't include any data.  For customers who are comfortable relying on WiFi for data access, or willing to pay a-la-cart for data, this could be a good value.  Keeping in mind, though, that other carriers also offer $30 plans, so don't forget to compare before making a final decision.

TracFone Launches New Walmart Brand "Total Wireless"

Here's a new Walmart-only plan run by TracFone under the brand Total Wireless.  It's a Verizon MVNO that's focusing on shared data plans.  Personally, I don't get why they felt the need to do this under a different brand.  TracFone has been highly successful, and adding shared data plans to that brand would have simplified the customer experience, and no doubt would have been more operationally efficient.  I like the plan offering; I just disagree with the brand strategy.  Enough with the new brands please!

Verizon Adds $60 Plan
Prepaid Reviews (blog)

Verizon has added a $60 plan to its prepaid lineup, which includes unlimited talk, text, and 2.5GB of data.  Compared to virtually every other prepaid plan you can get, this is essentially a pathetic offer.  That said, there are customers who really want prepaid, AND really want to be on the Verizon network.  For these folks, they'll be happy to see Verizon slowly evolving its plans.  At least we can feel confident that there's a least one person over at Verizon thinking about the prepaid business ;-).

Wireless Company Phone Unlocking Policy Compliance Is Pathetic
Latin Post

It's not news that wireless carriers were mandated to unlock customer phones if certain criteria are met.  It is, however, news that aside from Verizon, all other carriers are severely lacking on their ability to satisfy the requirements.  The bottom line is that if you need/want to unlock your phone, it will very likely be a fight to get it done, even if you're an existing customer in good standing.

Carriers can fight this as much as they want, however, it's quite evident that phones are a commodity, and customers who have fully paid for them, whether outright, or over a period of a contract term, need to have the right to use our phone as we wish.  It's understandable that carriers are resisting this, or at least resisting spending the money to support a service that does not benefit them.  Notwithstanding, as customers are more freely able to move between carriers, providers with the best network, service, and support, will win.

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

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