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Prepaid Wireless Tracker, Nov 2011 - T-Mobile Is On The No Contract War Path!
November 01, 2011

Prepaid Wireless Tracker - November 2011 Issue


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.  Its content is original, and created from firsthand experience working in the prepaid wireless industry.

This monthly email provides you with a quick glance at what's 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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T-Mobile Offers Prepaid Phone Plans at Walmart; 4G Plans Included
T-Mobile is really starting to add a lot of value/investment into the prepaid wireless space, and is jumping right into no contract 4G data.  If the AT&T-T-Mobile merger falls through, I suspect that T-Mobile will continue to aggressively address the prepaid market.  It seems evident that they’re going to concede their inability to compete in the contract space, as they are just too far behind the leading three telcos, and without the iPhone in its lineup, its disadvantage only continues to widen.  That said, don’t expect it to eliminate its contract business for the foreseeable future. 

T-Mobile Launches Pay-By-The-Day Plans
With various features bundled within its new $1, $2, and $3 daily plans, T-Mobile is hitting the prepaid market with a vengeance by covering all of the plan types.  You’ll also notice that the $2 per day plan offers 2G speeds, which is pretty uninspiring for those with a smartphone.  Note, however, that they charge you only on days that you use the phone, which is a feature not shared by all such daily plans.  Prospective consumers of these plans should ensure that you think carefully about how much you plan on using your phone, as a daily plan can quickly add up to a far higher cost than simply committing to a full 30 days of service (i.e. $3/day x 30 days = $90!). 

Virgin Mobile Postpones Smartphone Data Throttling Until 2012
My initial reaction was “finally, a good decision!”  However, the article is very clear that Virgin is only delaying due to system limitations.  Rest assured that this delay truly is its inability to execute this year, and not a strategic decision.  Some might venture to say that if they’re truly concerned about the customer experience that they would not be throttling at all.  That said, I have always believed (based on first-hand experience with such carrier statistics) that controlling their exposure for the 2-5% of “abusers” really does help to keep costs down for everyone else.  In other words, throttling is a GOOD thing for the vast majority of users as it helps keep data pricing as low as possible.

LG Optimus Gets Slider Keyboard On Virgin Mobile
MarketWatch (press release)
The launch of this prepaid smartphone is definitely a logical progression of the Optimus brand.  I’m one of those people that simply can’t get used to a virtual keyboard.  Though with a screen this small (3.2”), I’d prefer to see a BlackBerry style portrait keyboard.  I suppose the opening and turning process for many isn’t a big deal, however, for me, if I’m going to have to take that extra step, I’m going to want a much larger screen to make up for this inconvenience.  Unfortunately, no such design currently exists in the prepaid market on Android phones.  They’re actually still quite scarce in the postpaid market.  Maybe the Droid Pro/Motorola XPRT will make its way to prepaid at some point! 

Boost Mobile Launches Android ZTE Warp Prepaid Smartphone
With a 4.3” touchscreen, 1GHz processor, 5MP camera, and the latest Android 2.3 Gingerbread operating system, I think it’s fair to say that prepaid smartphone offerings are on fire this year!  So long as these types of off-brand manufacturers can hold up to the appropriate quality, handsets like these will continue to lessen the gap between prepaid and postpaid appeal.

Cricket Adds The ZTE Memo To Its Lineup
While it’s not a smartphone, the ZTE Memo feature phone offers a BlackBerry style candy bar format with a QWERTY keyboard for text hungry customers.  While I’m a fan of this style of handset, at $99, I think the price is too high; at $49 a handset like this would fly off the shelves.  I predict a major price drop within 4 months of launch!

DataJack Introduces Additional Prepaid Broadband Plans
MarketWatch (press release)
DataJack adds three new no contact broadband plans, now offering four options starting at $9.99 per month for 200MB.  As an MVNO on the Sprint nationwide 3G data network, the available prepaid broadband options for consumers continues to expand.  Unfortunately, no pay-per-use (i.e. non-monthly plans) currently exists, which I understand is in high demand from the inquiries I’ve been receiving for at least the past year.

Virgin Mobile's payLo Seeks to Take T-Mobile Head On
This article is good to highlight the competition with T-Mobile’s new Monthly 4G push.  However, I had the site updated months ago with the 30MB of included data on the $30 PayLo plan, so how this is newsworthy is a little bizarre.  I also couldn’t find any reference on the Boost website, or any other news items regarding a $25 15-day unlimited plan.  If this plan exists, I’ll find it; however, in the meantime, I’d be wary of some of the items you read in the news from sites/people that purport to understand the prepaid market!

Cricket To Sell Android Feature Phone
This is somewhat of a peculiar strategy.  In my mind it can only really make sense if using a stripped down version of Android makes the device less expensive and easier to support.  Without all of the apps, it may not require a fast processor, resulting in a lower handset costs, but may generally perform much better than other OEM feature phone operating systems.  When you think of it this way, this could be a great way to have a fast, sleek feature phone that users are used to seeing (ex. contacts, text messaging), with a lower general cost.  I don’t expect these phones would be able to run full Android due to the lower specs, though I’m sure some will attempt to hack them.  The key here will be for Cricket to NOT advertise this as an Android phone as that will cause tremendous confusion (and high returns) as customers realize that it’s NOT a smartphone.  It will be interesting to see how this plays out.

MetroPCS Offers $100 Unlimited Family Plan Promo For The Holidays
PC Magazine
Metro is offering four or five lines at $25 each, discounted from the regular $40 per month plan.  You can also get two lines for $35 each, or three lines for $30 each.  While this is a good deal (available until December 31st), keep in mind that it requires a rebate process.  So you’ll need to send in a few pieces of information about your purchase (only non-LTE/4G phones are included in this promo), and receive your rebate via a MetroPCS Visa prepaid card.  In other words, you’ll still have to fork over the regular payment, and then ensure that you use all of the funds on the prepaid Visa card to get the advertised value.


What's New at

  • Added CLEAR Broadband Service Refund Policy Issue to Broadband Internet Review


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