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Prepaid Wireless Tracker #95, May 2016 - Cricket Brings Back Unlimited High Speed Data!
May 01, 2016

Prepaid Wireless Tracker - May 2016, Issue #95


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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Note: I do not have any affiliation, nor do I get paid by any of the sites that I link to below.  They are simply topics that I deemed interesting, and provide a link for you to learn more, and I give credit to the source by listing their name under the title.  Enjoy!

Cricket Brings Back Unlimited High Speed Data With New $70 Plan
Well, well, look what we have here; Cricket brings back unlimited data!  Wireless carriers really are predictable.  They all eliminated unlimited data plans due to them being too expensive to maintain.  Then competition gets fierce, and they start bringing back unlimited data as a differentiator.  Recall that if you setup autopay, you get a $5 monthly discount, bringing your plan cost down to $65.  That really is a great deal for customers who need more than 10GB of high speed data.  I suspect that a lot of people will buy up just for peace of mind.  The reality, though, is that only true power users will need more than 10GB of high speed data.  I bet the Cricket Finance team is counting on that in order to increase revenue while not bleeding out on the cost to serve.  We'll see which carrier is next to resurrect truly unlimited data!  Lastly, don't forget that T-Mobile defectors also get $100 bill credit for switching.

AT&T Is Using Cricket To Go After T-Mobile
Motley Fool
The premise of this article is that AT&T is competing against T-Mobile's low prices using its prepaid Cricket brand, which won't be successful because customers see prepaid customers that don't check credit scores as a "poor man's brand".  Firstly, I stronglly disagree with this premise.  While that may have been true for a very long time, it has been many years since that has no longer been the case.  Prepaid punched out of that stigma into the maintstream, which is why prepaid growth has been so strong, while postpaid has generally seen declining growth.

I would argue that people don't really discuss carriers much anymore; it's more about what type of phone you have, and whether you can stream video, or other rich content.  The real barrier is people's perception.  Even if they understand that Cricket is part of AT&T, they feel the deal is too good, and it must be crippled in some matter.  Yes, they throttle speed compared to postpaid, however, it's fast enough that most people would never care under practical circumstances.  Customers are simply too scared to take the leap to prepaid because of lack of experience with it, or from a lack of knowledge.  That's the real challenge.

Verizon Cops Out Stating TracFone Is Its Prepaid Offer
Android Headlines
When questioned about their continued loss of prepaid customers, Verizon said that they are addressing the market via their relationship with TracFone, which is an MVNO of Verizon.  This comment made me chuckle, as it's clearly a copout response.  TracFone isn't even a dedicated Verizon MVNO, as they offer service on a number of carrier networks.  The fact is that Verizon is not competitive in the prepaid space as they believe that postpaid customers are more valuable, and don't want to cannibalize them by a shift to a lower revenue prepaid offering.  They have been saying that for years.  While it's a valid short term point of view, the entire market is moving towards prepaid, and we've seen the postpaid market continue to decline in growth.  At some point Verizon will need to compete in prepaid, however, clearly, they're holding off as long as possible.  Personally, I believe that the runway is running out for them, and hopefully they've built a sufficiently robust prepaid platform that they can rollout competitive offers efficiently when needed.

Republic Wireless Uses Bonded Calling To  Improve Call Quality
When using WiFi calling, Bonded Calling will patch weak signals using a cellular connection to augment call quality.  This helps to dramatically improve the overall quality, and avoids the previous approach of simply handing over the call to cellular.  As handovers have a greater risk of dropping the call, as well as an increase in cost by using the cellular network, this Bonded Calling helps overall.  It's great to see small carriers like this actually spending effort to innovate.  It's likely driven by a strong business need to reduce costs, however, notwithstanding, it's a great feature at the end of the day.  Hopefully it will work as well as advertised!

Cricket Launches Lumia 650 Windows Phone


Carriers are launching new handset models all the time.  This particular one, however, is notable as it will be the first Windows 10 powered device availabe on prepaid wireless.  Interestingly, they're offering it for $70 less than Michasoft is selling it for on their online store.  It's not an unusual strategy, though, as OEMs will often sell at a higher price than their distribution partners to avoid directly competiting with valued partners.  If you check out the specs, it's quite a capable phone for this price point, offering great value.  If you're interested in trying out a Windows phone, this is certainly a good option, on a carrier with good plans on a good network.

TruConnect Rolls Out Quick, Easy, and Secure Data Refills
PR Web
Offering a website that allows you to quickly select a plan and pay doesn't seem like a sexy headline, however, it really speaks to a better customer experience.  You'd be amazed how difficult many carriers make it to actually pay them!  I've been following TruConnect since they launched, and I continue to be impressed by their focus on simplicity, value, and the overall customer experience.  I hope they continue to grow, and that they can do it profitably so they can offer competitive services in the prepaid wireless and prepaid broadband space.

T-Mobile Kills Mobile Money Prepaid Visa Program
Mobile Money is T-Mobile's branded prepaid Visa debit card.  They haven't offered any stats regarding how many users they have vs. active users, or any metrics around profitability.  This one is of particular interest to me, for when I worked at a prepaid wireless carrier I launched a similar product.  The product I launched included a discount for customers who paid their carrier bill automatically with our card.  That program also lasted about two years before getting killed off.  I believe that given the appropriate effort, and customer education, it could be a successful product.  The issue tends to be educating customers regarding how it works, and its benefits, as well as targeting the appropriate users.  Carriers tend to underestimate the resources required to support and evolve this type of product, and it becomes distracting to the core business.  Anyway, if you've used T-Mobile Mobile Money, please reach out to me and let me know your thoughts!

Straight Talk Adds $55 Plan With 10GB High Speed Data

Android Headlines
Straight Talk now offers a $55 plan with 10GB of high speed data.  This is essentially on par with Cricket's $60 plan, which becomes $55 with autopay.  As usual, it's great to see competition that results in greater customer value.  It will be interesting to see if they follow suit with an unlimited data plan to compete with Cricket's latest unlimited offer.

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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