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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
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.
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!
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!
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!
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 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!
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.
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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