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Prepaid Wireless Tracker #107, May 2017 - Verizon Gets Serious About Prepaid With Unlimited Data!
May 01, 2017

Prepaid Wireless Tracker - May 2017, Issue #107


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!

Verizon Shows It's Now Serious About Prepaid

USA Today
Verizon launched a new $80 unlimited prepaid plan, that includes unlimited talk, text, and data, as well as unlimited text to 200 international destinations, and unlimited talk to Mexico and Canada.  This is a massive leap for Verizon considering it has basically ignored prepaid for more than a decade.  Sure, video streaming is at 480p, and tethering/hotpsot isn't included, however, given we're talking about Verizon here, this is huge news.  As per usual, unlimited data does come with a reasonable usage clause, after which it has the right to limit speed; however, it doesn't specify a particular usage threshold at this time.  The critical point of this new plan is that Verizon will become a prepaid contender, which will only help to increase competition, which ultimately yields better value for customers.

U.S. Cellular Adds Unlimited Plan

Wireless Week
And the unlimited data resurgence continues!  U.S. Cellular now offers unlimited talk, text, and data for $70 per month.  Note that after 22GB, you'll be throttled to 2G speeds.  I would argue that's a very healthy amount of high speed data, which, for all intents and purposes is unlimited for most of us!

Budget Mobile Ends Lifeline Service

This past month Budget Mobile announced it's discontinuing its Lifeline free cell phone service program.  This was a surprising development, as it had been known to have a respectable sized customer base, and had been one of the go-to services.  The company offered no explanation, so we don't know whether it was a profitability issue, internal politics, or other management problems.  What's disconcerting is that the company offers no help to existing customers to smoothly transition to a different Lifeline provider.  It basically just tells people to find a different carrier.  This is not a good practice in general, and puts similar providers, including smaller MVNOs in a bad light as prospective customers may hesitate trying out smaller carriers if they fear they could disappear overnight with no reasonable support to smoothly transition customers to another service.  So, for that behavior, "shame on you Budget"!  Fortunately, I have a very comprehensive list of Lifeline providers to help impacted customers; check it out at Lifeline Providers.

Cricket Wireless Launches Affordable LG Harmony

Prepaid Reviews
It's not all about the most expensive high end smartphones for everyone!  It's also interesting what we're now calling low end, given that it can basically do what any other phone is capable of, for a fraction of the price.  For $99 the LG Harmony gets you a 5.3 inch display, though only at 720p resolution.  You also get a quad-core processor, 1GB RAM, 16GB of internal memory, microSD card slot, and 8MP and 5MP rear and front cameras, respectively.  A fantastic option for the budget conscious if you ask me!

Boost Launches Great Value ZTE Max XL Smartphone

Phone Arena
If you want to take a step up from the Cricket's lower end LG Harmony, this is a good option to consider.  Boost and Virgin's ZTE Max XL gets you a 6 inch 1080p screen with 2GB of RAM and 16GB of internal storage.  You also get a 13MP and 5MP rear and front facing cameras, respectively, as well as a higher capacity battery for $130.  That extra $30 may be worth it if you're still on the fence between Cricket and Boost/Virgin!

AT&T Saw Strong Prepaid Growth In 1Q17

Market Realist
The key takeaway here is that AT&T and T-Mobile are killing it in the prepaid segment, with T-Mobile even outperforming AT&T.  Even postpaid losses have largely been accommodated by healthy prepaid growth.  Prepaid has overall lower costs of acquisition and ongoing operational costs.  Thus, it's even fair to say that prepaid can be more profitable in the long run if carriers can avoid high prepaid customer churn.  Clearly the big carriers have finally figured this out after all of these years, with even Verizon getting serious about this segment.

Sprint Positioning Prepaid For Those NOT Needing Unlimited

Phone Arena
Sprint announced that it will keep its unlimited plan as a contract option, and keep prepaid for those who either don't qualify for postpaid, or don't want to commit to a monthly payment.  Prepaid plans will have 3GB and 5GB options.  Sprint never ceases to surprise me with its apparent lack of understanding of the market in general.  Prepaid has transcending those criteria, and thus this approach will make its no contract offerings completely uncompetitive, and even irrelevant.  With its long delayed relaunch of what it's calling its disruptor brand, Virgin Mobile, it will surely need to offer unlimited plans.  Time will ultimately reveal that its Sprint Prepaid brand is a lame duck that needs to be taken out back and put out of its misery!

Samsung Galaxy S8, S8+ Available On Prepaid

Prepaid Reviews
As has been the case for sometime, prepaid carriers are getting flagship phones at or near the same launch date as postpaid.  Cricket, Boost, Virgin, Straight Talk, and U.S. Cellular all now carry the Galaxy S8 and S8+.  Though I expect many customers will veer towards prepaid carriers that offer financing options, as the full purchase price ranges from $650-$800.

Mint SIM Offers Insanely Inexpensive Prepaid Promotion

Phone Arena
Ultra Mobile's new super low cost brand, Mint SIM, is offering a promo on its 3-month plan for $11.67 per month.  This plan gets you unlimited talk and text, and 2GB of high speed data.  After the promo ends, the three month plan goes to its normal price of $23/month.  There's no indication as to when the promo ends.  You can also try using the promo code "shopclever" for 20% off any of their plans.  If you already have a compatible phone, and you're interested in trying out this new fighter brand, this promo is certainly enticing!

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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