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Prepaid Wireless Tracker #80, Feb 2015 - Data Sharing Plan Proliferation Takes Off!
February 01, 2015

Prepaid Wireless Tracker - February 2015 Issue #80


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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Virgin Mobile Launches 4G Data Sharing Plans In Walmart
PCC Mobile Broadband
Virgin is now offering 4G family data sharing plans exclusive to Walmart. The plans have very good value, which isn't unexpected given the partnership with Walmart.  What irks be about these plans is that it's available only on certain handsets.  I understand that the sharing app is pre-installed, however, installing an app on any phone really isn't difficult, and can be pushed via SMS when a customer enrolls.

It's still unclear whether customers can later upgrade or swap smartphones with other non-Walmart Virgin phones.  From a business and customer perspective that would make the most sense; however, Walmart often implements cumbersome rules that keeps customers coming back to its stores.  While that's understandable for Walmart, it makes for a restrictive program from the customer's point of view.  Note that virtually every carrier, prepaid and postpaid, is focusing on shared data plans this year, so expect a lot of competitive offers!

T-Mobile Launches Simply Prepaid Plans To Compete On Value With Virgin
The Next Digit

In response to Virgin's family data shared plans, T-Mobile has launched new Simply Prepaid Plans, which, although aren't shared plans, offer good value at the individual level.  So you get less data, however, it's not shared, and the plan price per person is low.  These types of offers make it difficult for people looking for multiple lines to compare because they're not apples to apples.

The key for a family to make the best decision is to have a good understanding of what your individual data needs are.  From there you can do the math of the per person cost breakdown, and the amount of data in the plan.

Cricket Sells Muve Music To Deezer For $100 Million


 To clarify, Cricket developed Muve Music as a service to differentiate its prepaid service from the competition.  They've played around with raising plan prices, but including it for free, as well as offering it as a paid add-on.  They subsequently spun off the brand as a separate company, and are now selling it to Deezer for $100 million.  Not bad for a project that lasted approximately 6 years!  Whether Deezer can compete in the U.S. as a paid add-on service is questionable.

I expect Cricket will ultimately phase it out in favor of a Beats or other offering.  They probably have a clause in the contract that requires Cricket to offer it as a service for a specified period of time.  In my opinion, Deezer really needs to expand beyond Cricket if they are to succeed in the U.S., and I predict that won't happen.  The service simply isn't good enough in terms of usability to compete with more established brands.

Cricket CDMA Shut Down Schedule
Prepaid Reviews

If you're a legacy Cricket CDMA customer you'll want to study this shutdown schedule.  Thus far I haven't been impressed with their proactive offers to convert, or lack there of.  It will be interesting to see how aggressive they get in the final hours.  In reality, they should offer a free phone that is similar to the one you already purchased.  For example, if you have a Galaxy S4 on CDMA, they should give you a free GSM Galaxy S4.

It doesn't look like it's going to work out that way though.  I expect they'll lose a lot of customers that they could have otherwise retained.  They seem to be forgetting the fact that it's cheaper to give an existing customer a free phone and keep them happy and on their network, than to spend money marketing to replace those customers.  Hmm....

Cricket Offers Feature-Packed Low Cost ZTE Grand X Max+

This is a very capable phone for $200, however, I wouldn't say that it's on par with the iPhone or Galaxy S series phones available on Cricket to replace them as a flagship smartphone.  That said, for the price, it's quite a competitive offer.  In particular, you don't usually see a 5MP front and 13MP rear camera in a phone this price off contract.  I would definitely recommend looking at the screen quality before making a final conclusion.

I expect the margins on this phone are extremely thin for ZTE (assuming the build quality is at least decent), and they're using this to build their brand in the U.S., which has been lacking in recent years.  If it's up to par, then Cricket/ZTE could have a hit on their hands!

Verizon Launches Bigger Data Buckets With 90-Day Expiration

PCC Mobile Broadband

Verizon has always been the last carrier to follow prepaid trends, which they can afford to do as the #1 postpaid carrier.  Over a year later, they're now doubling data, which essentially brings them in line with the industry standard data allotment.  With a 90-day expiration on the data allowance, you get a pseudo rollover of unused data for that period of time, which is the only saving grace of their otherwise uninspiring offer.  It's at least good to see that someone over there is actually thinking about prepaid!  Again, unless you're a die hard Verizon fan, there's really no compelling reason to go with their prepaid program at this time.

Boost Will Increase 1 GB to 2.5 GB for $35 Plan With Auto Re-Boost


Sign up for autopay (Auto Re-Boost in Boost-land), and you can get a $35 unlimited plan with 2.5GB of highspeed data.  That's a great value!  For those considering Boost, another consideration is that they don't currently support BYOD (Bring Your Own Device), so unlike most other carriers these days, you're stuck buying Boost-only phones.  If that doesn't concern you, this is a very competitive offer worth considering.

T-Mobile's MetroPCS Launches Unlimited 4G For $50

Available through April 5th, MetroPCS customers can get the $60 plan that includes unlimited 4G data for $50.  It's actually a great deal; however, customers should know their actual data usage before signing up, as they may be better off on a $40 plan with a different carrier that includes less data, but more than fulfills their actual usage needs.  If your usage does in fact warrant unlimited highspeed data, this a good deal , and you can keep it as long as you remain a Metro customer.

T-Mobile Offers Bad Credit Customers Access To High End Phones


The industry standard is for carriers to use credit scores to define whether they'll allow you to finance a phone, rather than pay full price upfront.  T-Mobile, however, is now taking matters into their own hands by allowing you to prove your credit worthiness to them directly.  How do you do this?  By paying on time for 12 consecutive months.  The credit bureaus basically track similar payment behavior on your mortgage payments, car loans, etc.

Having direct payment experience with a customer is certainly valuable data.  It's an interesting approach, and I'd like to see the data on its results, though it's doubtful they'll ever report how many of these customers ultimately default on payments once they get approved after the 12 month period.

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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