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Prepaid Wireless Tracker #88, Oct 2015 - Cricket Officially Kills CDMA Network
October 01, 2015

Prepaid Wireless Tracker - October 2015 Issue #88


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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Cricket Wireless Kills CDMA Network
Android Headlines - Android News

To my surprise AT&T actually shut down the legacy Cricket CDMA network according to their original plan.  They're claiming that only a small handful of customers on that network remained.  My personal experience earlier this year was that they ignored my proactive desire to get the required new 4G LTE phone, offered abysmal trade-in value, and basically forced me to move to a different carrier.  I have no doubt that they lost a lot of valuable customers during this transition, however, good for them for aggressively moving on, which is always an expensive and painful proposition.

Cricket Wireless Now Offers iPhone 6S and 6S Plus

Cricket was the first prepaid, no contract wireless provider to launch an iPhone, and they're still going strong offering the latest iPhone 6S series at the same time as the big carriers.  Cricket also offers financing programs for customers who don't want to shell out the full price on day one, though that's essentially locking you into a contract, so keep that in mind.  Of course, you can payoff the phone at anytime, so you're not bound to a classic postpaid contract.  In addition, Cricket's monthly plans are very competitively priced, and include taxes and telecom fees, so compared to similar postpaid plans, they're still one of the best deals in town.

GoPhone Launches Amazing ZTE ZMAX 2

For $150 you get a phablet with fantastic specs, including a 5.5 inch HD display, quad core processor, 16GB of internal storage, an 8MP rear camera, and a 2MP front camera.  Compare that to some other high end Android phones and iPhones, and I think you'll be impressed.  As I noted last month, this is likely a symptom of ZTE trying to gain market share.  So don't brush this off as a cheaply made phone!  The only disappointing factor here is that it's on GoPhone, which is probably one of the least inspiring prepaid programs (in terms of available plans) next to Verizon.

Apple & Other OEMs Beating Down Wireless Carriers

This article touches on the subject of phone manufacturers offering direct deals to customers to finance phones outside of carrier programs, and offering deals to upgrade frequently through them directly.  We've seen this evolving for years, forcing wireless providers to become more competitive, and focus on customer service, and overall better value.  No doubt carriers can envision the long term nightmare of becoming dumb pipes, where margins are critically low.  While I think that day is still a long ways away, it is forcing carriers to get more creative, resulting in better deals for customers, which is always a good thing.  It will be interesting to see how this paradigm develops over the next decade.

Is Apple's iPhone Upgrade Program a Good Deal?

The reality of Apple's program, along with carrier leasing/financing programs, is that if you want a new phone every year, these can be a reasonably hassle free method, though certainly not cheaper.  In theory you could buy the phone outright for a couple of hundred dollars less overall, and resell it 12 months later on your own.  Many of us many, however, do not want to bother with that hassle.

The key element that this article doesn't touch on that I feel is important, is to understand the rules around what condition the phone has to be in when you return it.  You don't want to get hit with a large fee if it's too scratched up, or obviously damaged.  Also, as I've noted previously, leasing really makes no sense at all.  You'll pay a slightly lower monthly payment, however, you'll never have the option to keep the phone.  If you're upgrading regularly, you're better off having a backup phone in case your next phone gets lost, stolen, or broken.  Otherwise you'll find it to be an expensive proposition to buy a new phone when you're out of your upgrade cycle.

Overall, it's the better financial decision to purchase the phone at the lowest possible cost, and own it outright.  Do you really want to spend the extra $200 to finance it?  If you can't afford to buy it outright, you're better off saving up on your own until you can; why throw your money at Apple or the carriers?!

Mobilio Introduces Smartphone Protection Plan On ANY Phone
PR Web (press release)

With the cost of high end phones is increasing, and all carriers are moving away from highly subsidized phones even for those on contracts, insurance is something to consider.  I've always shied away from it because it's so expensive ($8-$13 per month, and usually a $150 deductible for a high end phone).  If you break your phone in the first months, then it's a steal, however, after 12-24 months, that deductible is painful, and you can probably get a similar phone on eBay, and could have avoided the monthly fee.  

However, here we have a new service from Mobilio (powered by eSecuritel) for $39 per YEAR, and a $50 deductible.  Personally, I think that's great value worth considering.  Note that you can purchase it at any time, and it applies to new or used phones so long as the phone is in working condition.  This is in sharp contrast to carrier insurance offerings that require enrollment within the first 30 days of purchase.  Note, however, that if your phone is valued at $380 or greater, the value diminishes sharply, as the monthly fee goes to $70 with a $150 deductible.  Though as your phone ages, the replacement value decreases, and you can become eligible for the lower monthly fee and deductible.

Cricket Continues Competing On International Features
Latin Post

It's not surprising that AT&T is leveraging its international assets to bolster Cricket's competitive positioning.  This round targets Costa Rica, the Dominican Republic, El Salvador, Honduras, Guatemala, Jamaica, Haiti and Nicaragua.  If you're interested in these countries, I recommend also comparing pricing with Google Voice, as Cricket's pricing is certainly not super cheap.  I expect that they'll decrease pricing over time as they learn customers' calling metrics, and determine the lowest price they can offer while still retaining a healthy margin.  It's certainly obvious that as the U.S. market becomes saturated with inexpensive plans, carriers are shifting competition to international calling plans.  It's only a matter of time before we start seeing competitive worldwide plans!

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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