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Prepaid Wireless Tracker #92, Feb 2016 - Sprint Beefs Up Boost While Sidelining Virgin Mobile
February 01, 2016

Prepaid Wireless Tracker - February 2016, Issue #92


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 Mobile Jumps On Family Plan Bandwagon
RCR Wireless News
Following an atrocious finish last year with massive prepaid losses, Boost has jumped on the family plan bandwagon.  I suppose that poor performance was inevitable after having laid off virtually everyone at the company over the past 2-3 years who actually understood the prepaid market.  And to think that Boost was once the indisputable leader in prepaid for a period of time.  Anyway, here we've got what looks like a Cricket Wireless look-a-like program.

For $70 you get 2 unlimited lines with 5GB of unthrottled data each; two additional lines can be added for $25 each.  The $90 Family Plan gets you 3 unlimited lines with 1.5GB of unthrottled data, and the $100 option gets you 4 unlimited lines with 1.5GB of unthrottled data.  Clearly the $70 plan is the better offer, and worth the extra $5 over the $90 plan if you need three lines ($70+$25=$95) to get the 5GB of data included.  Boost's new offers are definitely competitive, however, with companies like T-Mobile and Cricket obviously more dedicated to the success of their no contract programs, I expect Boost will continue to have difficulty competing over the long term.

Sprint Sidelines Virgin Mobile!

This announcement actually caught me off-guard for the first time in over a decade!  Since Sprint's acquisition of Virgin, I have been emphasizing that the having the Virgin and Boost brands was a complete waste of resources.  They've tried to position Virgin as data centric, however, ultimately, they target the same customers, and don't offer sufficient differentiation.  Hearing Sprint's leadership state that they're de-emphasizing Virgin was surprising, and refreshing!

The fact is that they could eliminate the Boost brand, and simply integrate those offers into "Sprint Prepaid" with the same success, while eliminating the cost of a separate brand that has no meaningful value.  That said, I understand that it's one step at a time for these executive who are only starting to wrap their heads around the prepaid industry ;-).  You'd think that the fact that Virgin wasn't profitable at all prior to its acquisition by Sprint would have been a clue to its real value, but I digress...

MetroPCS Targets Sprint Customers For Prepaid Growth

T-Mobile's MetroPCS is directly targeting Sprint's postpaid customers by offering free phones to switch, and highlighting their lower cost plans.  Sprint's Virgin Mobile and Boost Mobile brands are also eligible, however, Metro is really seeking to target customers who are new to prepaid.  The reality is that due to greater than 100% market penetration, growth becomes about stealing customers.  Pulling in postpaid customers to prepaid is the next logical source as the price discrepancy between postpaid and prepaid is far easier to highlight compared to competing head-to-head with prepaid offers.

Karma Continues Tinkering Its Unlimited Plan To Protect Against Heavy Users

The Verge

After its $50 "Neverstop" unlimited plan (with speed of 5Mbps) was being leveraged (seen as abused) by customers who were basically using it as a replacement for home Internet, it throttled speeds down to 1.5Mbps.  This was a poor decision, as it basically crippled the performance and overall appeal of the program.  Thus, it has now announced that the higher 5Mbps speed is now back, however, abusers who use more than 15GB of data per month will be severely throttled.

Personally, I commend them for back-stepping on its earlier poor decision to throttled all users, and 15GB per month is extremely reasonable for customers who use the service for its intended purpose.  The reality is that the market is fierce, and customers will ultimately drive businesses to achieve a stable profitable business model (or go bankrupt) as abusers are always there to teach these corporations painful (and expensive!) lessons.

Samsung Galaxy J3 Available On Boost & Virgin Mobile
Softpedia News

The Samsung Galaxy J3 is now available on Virgin and Boost for $180.  Although it's considered a mid-tier phone, it's quite a good deal for those looking for a solid smartphone.  The only real feature that customers find noticeable is its 5MP camera, which is quite a distance from higher tier phones that typically range from 13-16MP.  However, with a 5" Super AMOLED screen, 16MB of internal memory, and expandable microSD slot up to 128GB, it's really arguably a Galaxy GS5 derivative.  Performance-wise, the average user will be perfectly content with its slower quad core processor.  I always find it amusing that technology evolves so quickly that what used to be considered high tier so quickly becomes mid-tier specs!  This phone is a great option for customers who want a more than decent phone without having to fork over (or finance) a $500-$600 smartphone.

Verizon Prepaid Gets LG Optimus Zone 3
Softpedia News

The LG Optimus Zone 3 is available for free on several of Verizon's prepaid monthly plans.  It has a 4.5" screen, 1GB of RAM, 8GB of internal memory, expandable microSD card (up to 32GB), and a 5MP rear camera.  This is obviously a low end smartphone, however, for the truly price sensitive (this phone is free!), and for kids, this is a great offer.  Unfortunately, if you're looking for a great deal, you're not going to find competitive plans on Verizon prepaid.  Thus, prospective customers really need to look at their total cost of ownership before getting swayed by this type of free offer.  Of course, it's great to have options!

AT&T Bumps Up GoPhone 4G Data Allowance
Android Police

In January AT&T bumped its prepaid GoPhone data allowances on its $45 and $60 plans from 1.5GB and 4GB, respectively, to 2GB and 5GB, respectively.  This is really a move to stay competitive (or shall I say "relevant") as people continue to wonder why AT&T keeps its lame GoPhone brand alive, despite aggressively marketing and evolving its far superior Cricket brand.  Anyway, if you're a GoPhone customer, you'll definitely want to verify that you've been migrated to this new 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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