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Prepaid Wireless Tracker #93, March 2016 - Sprint Kills 2 Virgin Programs
March 01, 2016

Prepaid Wireless Tracker - March 2016, Issue #93


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!

Sprint Kills Virgin payLo & Broadband2Go Programs

Sprint has been cleaning house over the past two years, and recently announced that it is de-emphasizing its Virgin Mobile brand.  In the wake of that announcement, it's discontinuing their prepaid broadband (Broadband2Go) offer, stating too much competition with tablets and phones, as well as killing their lower end usage payLo brand.  It's clear that they're trying to streamline operations, and overall the Virgin brand has negligible value (in my opinion), so I wouldn't be surprised if it ultimately dies, or is sold off at some point in the not to distant future.

Virgin Mobile Replaces payLo With Three New Plans

Although Sprint is de-emphasizing its Virgin Mobile brand, it has relaunched its plans.  Their unlimited $30, $40, and $50 plans offer 500MB, 4GB, and 6GB of high speed data, respectively.  The value is still quite good.  While I'm only guessing, I suspect that these plan revisions were already being planned before Sprint announced it would be de-emphasizing the brand.  It will certainly be interesting to see how the plans evolve (or don't!) over the next year or two.  Will they evolve with the market, or stagnate into oblivion?!

Verizon Increases Data On Prepaid To Stay In The Game
Motley Fool

If you've been reading my newsletter for any period of time, you'll know that Verizon is famous in the prepaid space for being a laggard, as they continue to value (over value in my opinion) their postpaid customers.  After a number of prepaid carriers increased their data allowance recently, Verizon has now followed suit.  Its entry level $45 smartphone plan will now get you 2GB of data (increased from 1GB), and if you sign up for auto pay, you'll get an additional 1GB of monthly data.  Kudos for Verizon for stringing themselves along in the prepaid market just enough to stay in the game (barely!).

What You Need To Know About T-Mobile's Free Smartphone Offer

Tech Times

For those considering T-Mobile's latest "free smartphone" offer, you'll want to understand how it works.  Of course, because it's free, and you don't have to sign a contract, don't expect the latest and greatest flagship phones.  They are however reasonable low to mid-tier smartphones that are more than usable.  You will also, however, have to fork over $50 for the phone and wait for your rebate in the mail.  It's no really a big deal unless you were not expecting any out-of-pocket cost, so a simple heads up on this offer for those considering it!

Cricket Launches Highly Capable ZTE Grand X3
Wireless Week

Here we have an extremely capable new smartphone with a 5.5" HD display, 1.3GHz quad-core processor, and 16GB of storage, 8 MP rear camera, 2 MP front camera, and an expandable microSD slot.  Existing customers can upgrade for $130, and new customers for $80.  I have to say that Cricket is definitely all in on prepaid, continuing to add compelling phones to its lineup, and ZTE is well known for being eager to gain some market share in the U.S. market.

Karma Kills Neverstop Prepaid Broadband
Karma Blog

After seeing unprofitable data usage on its unlimited Neverstop plan, Karma throttled the service, enforced a maximum monthly usage limit, and restricted the number of devices that can connect. Of course, that resulted in customer backlash, and Karma then completely eliminated the service.

In its place it launched a completely new service called Pulse.  Pulse service isn't be throttled, however, it's essentially the standard model whereby you purchase a given number of GBs per month.  Additional data can be purchased mid-month.  The initial plans are set at: $5GB for $40, 10GB for $70, and 20GB for $140 dollars.

Eliminating the unlimited offer effectively removes their competitive positioning, and makes them pretty much identical to any other provider.  Now it's back to a pricing and data bucket size game, which is the lowest level of competition in this industry.  The real question is whether they'll evolve the program to something more unique, or ultimately close shop entirely.  Unfortunately, business (i.e. profitability) reality set in for Karma. We'll see what happens over the next 18 months!

InstaVoice Ring For Sending Missed Calls
Virtual-Strategy Magazine
While this feature is currently only available in emerging markets, I thought it was quite interesting, and worth some food for thought.  The InstaVoice Ring allows prepaid users who don't have a balance to make an outgoing call to basically send a missed call notice to the recipient's phone.  Having seen that they missed a call, the expectation is that the intended receiver of the call will call that number back.  Note that this concept works in these markets only because they tend to have a "free incoming calls" model.

This is certainly showing some creativity in an industry that has become quite stagnant in recent years.  I would think that it could open up the opportunity for people to minimize or eliminate paying for cell phone service by simply using this feature in perpetuity.  I expect they have rules around how often they can make such calls, and that they must make payments in some frequency to maintain their account in good standing.  Regardless, it's one of the more interesting features that I've heard of in a long time!

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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