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Prepaid Wireless Tracker #85, July 2015 - Boost Still Flailing Around For Ways To Compete!
July 01, 2015

Prepaid Wireless Tracker - July 2015 Issue #85


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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Boost Launches Old Sprint “Slash Your Payment In Half” Campaign
Bidness ETC

Until July 20th Cricket and MetroPCS customers can move to a Boost plan at half the normal price.  This is analogous to the campaign Sprint ran on the postpaid side of the business previously.  While the comment in the article regarding this strategy driving Sprint into bankruptcy in the next year is absurd (the volume doesn't warrant flagging that risk), I do agree that this is a race to the bottom.

When carriers resort to slashing prices to attract customers from the competition, you know they've either run out of ideas, or they don't have any tangible competitive advantage.  Here we probably have a bit of both factors at play.  Though Boost could choose to promote its hotspot capability that is lacking from the current Cricket program.

Ultimately, prospective customers should consider what best meets your needs after the one year of price reductions.  Do the coverage and quality meet your needs?  Although you're not in a contract, you won't want to deal with the cost of getting a new phone if you can't use your Boost phone on your next carrier of choice.  I recommend thinking about your needs at least 2-3 years into the future.

Boost Attempts to Lure Customers With MobiTV

For an extra $10 per month Boost customers can add on-demand live sports access.  I definitely like to see carriers innovating, however, I question how many people will find that price to be worthwhile.  In the long term, I expect TV network providers to offer access to desired content that doesn't tie you to a specific carrier.  I appreciate that wireless carriers are seeking to differentiate themselves and make their service stickier, however, the reality is that they should focus on coverage, quality, speed, reliability, and customer service.

On a side note, this article notes that Boost is an MVNO; this is not the case.  Boost is a wholly owned subsidiary of Sprint, and doesn't operate like an MVNO would.  It baffles me why people state this to be the case!  To illustrate, Virgin mobile used to be a Sprint MVNO, however, when it was acquired in 2009, it also become a Sprint brand/subsidiary.  The financial metrics around an MVNO are materially different than what Sprint is able to do with its Boost and Virgin brands.

MetroPCS Adds Cuba International Calling

Wireless Week

It's always good to hear carriers adding features without bumping up the price.  Adding Cuba is a nice touch, and unlimited texting is obviously valuable; however, 20 minutes of talk time doesn't seem all that inspiring.  That said, who really talks much these days anyway?!

Boost Launches Rollover Data
Android Headlines - Android News

Following last month's launch of rollover data by AT&T, Sprint is following suit with its prepaid brand, Boost Mobile.  The main difference is that rolled over data never expires, and can accumulate up to 30GB at any point in time.  Rolling over unused data definitely helps to make customers stickier, and helps to mitigate customer angst around losing data they've paid for but never used.

The catch here is that the offer is for a limited time only, and requires that you activate service at Best Buy.  Personally, I believe that carrier plans should not vary by retailer.  I understand that retailers like to differentiate themselves, however, it makes it confusing for customers, and difficult to support.  

T-Mobile Prepaid Brands Univision Mobile and GoSmart Mobile Launching In Target

Latin Post

Target is throwing in two additional brands into its stores.  Univision Mobile targets Latinos, while GoSmart is a super low cost provider.  Yes, customer options are great, and competition is great, however, Target seems to have no real strategy other than to throw whatever it can at the wall to see what sticks.  The result is an overwhelming amount of options that is really confusing for customers.

If Target wants to show some leadership, they could build a self-service tool that helps guide customers to the top two plans that are most likely to meet their needs.  Even better would be to provide highly trained customer service in store to guide customers.  The typical experience in the Target wireless section today is a lonely one with no one in sight to help, and extra effort to find someone who can try to walkie talkie someone over who might be able to answer simple questions!

ZTE Drives U.S. Smartphone Market Share With Budget Smartphones
Tom's Hardware

ZTE' Maven and Sonata are two high value smartpones on the lower end of the feature spectrum that went to AT&T postpaid and Cricket prepaid, respectively.  The stats are actually quite impressive at their $60 and $30 price points.  I'd be interested to know how much AT&T is subsidizing these handsets vs. how much margin ZTE is eating to gain market share.  Either way, customers wanting a respectable phone, but not interested in paying for premium features now have more options.

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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