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Prepaid Wireless Tracker #96, June 2016 - Family Plan Competition Is Heating Up!
June 01, 2016

Prepaid Wireless Tracker - June 2016, Issue #96


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!

Boost Mobile Offers 10GB Family Plan
Android Headlines

Boost is experimenting with a family plan, which largely mirrors Cricket's family plan efforts over the past several years.  For $70 per month you get two lines with unlimited talk and text, and 10GB of data; 3 lines for $95, 4 lines for $120, and 5 lines for $145.  Recall that customers signing up for autopay also receive a $5 monthly credit.  Moreover, if you're not on autopay and  forget to pay your bill, you get free incoming calls and texts, which is a nice customer experience touch.  Cricket offers more family plan options overall, however, at the comparable 10GB plan, this Boost deal provides much greater value.  This offer is only available until an unspecified "early July" date, so if this meets your family's needs, you'll want to jump on it quickly!

T-Mobile Strikes Back at Cricket Family Plan
Wireless Week

Last month Cricket brought back unlimited high speed data with a new $70 plan, and specifically targeted T-Mobile by offering a $100 bill credit.  This month T-Mobile is striking back with its MetroPCS brand with a 6GB offer for $30 per line, up to 5 lines.  While not unlimited data, as I noted last month, only very power users will even go over 10GB.  The average high data usage customer really should be satisfied with 6GB of data unless they're never connected to WiFi at home and/or work, and consume a lot of streaming video.  It's a limited in-store only offer, so you should jump on this quickly if there's a possibility that it might meet your needs, particularly if you're already a MetroPCS customer!

T-Mobile and AT&T Highlight the Convergence of Prepaid and Postpaid

This article is really a good summary of how postpaid and prepaid have evolved over the past few years.  Prepaid carriers were starting to target postpaid as direct competitors rather than just staying in the no contract arena to compete.  The reality was that prepaid could now offer the same/similar network, the same services, and the same phones at a lower monthly plan cost.  To help reduce some of the blatant and obviously higher postpaid plan prices, contract carriers began to decouple the handset subsidy from the plan cost.

In fact, they started to shift away from costly handset subsidies, and moved to financing, leasing, and the outright purchase of phones.  These moves, in addition to overall plan price reductions, has resulted in a decrease in ARPU (Average Revenue Per User) for postpaid customers, while prepaid has seen an overall increase in ARPU.  Thus, the profitability gap between these two services has been eroding, which has translated into postpaid carriers putting more effort into prepaid.  As I've said for the better part of a decade, postpaid will ultimately disappear in favor of no contract offers, which has been the norm in European countries since day one.

Sprint and i-wireless Merge Lifeline Programs
RCR Wireless News

In this somewhat bizarre deal, Sprint's Lifeline program, Assurance Wireless, will merge with i-wireless' Access Wireless Lifeline program.  It's odd due to the fact that Assurance is a much larger business, so using the Access brand for the combined company likely relates to Sprint distancing itself from prepaid to focus on its core business.  Oddly, they're doing this at a time when the market is clearly spending more resources growing their prepaid businesses.  Sprint always seems to be on the wrong side of nationwide strategies and trends!

Access executives will be running the business despite Sprint's 70% ownership.  It may sound odd, however, i-wireless is essentially getting a 30% stake in a much larger business than it previously had, so overall it's a win for them.  I would think, however, that Assurance has a much greater brand presence, so in that respect it's a little odd.  Anyway, it will be interesting to see how this evolves, and whether Sprint takes any active involvement, or will remain a largely silent owner.

Hands-On Review of $130 Cricket Microsoft Lumia 650
I reported the availability of this phone in last month's newsletter given its great value.  While I don't usually link to phone reviews, I believe this is a compelling offer that those of you considering may want to research further given that it's a Windows operating system.  Unless you're tied into the Apple ecosystem, or very comfortable with Android, a Windows phone like this could be worth exploring for someone looking for high value, and capable features.  Personally, I'm too tied into Android to find a compelling reason to switch operating systems, however, that doesn't mean that keeping an open mind isn't worthwhile!

Verizon Beefs Up Data Plan Permanently
Pulse Headlines

In February Verizon was trialing increased data allowances.  Now it has confirmed that it will continue with its $45 plan with 3GB of data, and its $60 plan with 6GB of data.  The catch here is that you have to sign up for autopay to get it.  Otherwise the data allowances drop to 2GB and 5GB for the $45 and $60 plans, respectively.  Keep in mind, though, that the trial had the $45 plan being increased from 1GB to 2GB, so these new plans are seeing some much needed data bucket increases.  It looks like Verizon is paying just a little bit more attention to its prepaid business by trying to get it to be at least marginally competitive.  Verizon fans should be happy with these increases; not compared to other carriers, but compared to Verizon's previous prepaid plans!

Cricket Wireless Wins Industry Awards - But Are They Warranted?!

Cricket won two awards; the first for innovation in prepaid.  This was for simplifying the user experience by offering straightforward plans on a industry leading 4G LTE network, and for including taxes and fees.  I definitely agree that they've been working hard to simplify a complex market, however, most no contract carriers now include taxes and telco fees.  Their second award was for migrating from the legacy Cricket platform to the new AT&T (previous Aio) platform.  What I find curious is the note around needing to integrate the two platforms, for the opposite is actually true.

They actually kept them completely separate with a migration strategy of requiring legacy customers to purchase a new phone that would be compatible with the AT&T/Aio/New Cricket platform.  I actually had a legacy Cricket phone, and called them to inquire about any deals or promotions.  I was offered a $50 credit, which was essentially useless given that I was trying to replace a Galaxy S5 in perfect condition.  After a number of calls, I gave up and discontinued service.  I would say that overall their migration was NOT award winning.  In fact, they lost a lot of customers, and certainly didn't do any IT integration whatsoever.  It kind of makes you wonder who schmoozed who at some Vegas convention to get these relatively meaningless awards ;-).

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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