Prepaid Netbook

by Adam

I see the topic of netbooks a lot these days. Some carriers are now starting to offer them as well at really good prices. I read your page about phone subsidies. Do you think that would prevent prepaid netbooks (with wireless broadband) from ever being offered? I know that i would definitely be interested in a netbook with mobile broadband access!

Comments for Prepaid Netbook

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May 22, 2009
Prepaid Netbooks Would be Great!
by: PrepaidWirelessGuy

Very good question! I too have noticed that wireless carriers are starting to get netbooks into their portfolios. It makes a lot of sense for them because at the end of the day, they're not too far off from offering broadband cards or smartphones (except for voice services of course). What I mean is that subsidizing netbook hardware isn't so different than subsidizing broadband cards and handsets. The fact is that those products cost the carrier may hundreds of dollars, even $500 or $600 a piece. So subsidizing a similarly priced netbook and offering it for $200 or $300 or even less(!), is a logical next step/good fit.

But as you said, the whole subsidy model is dependent on the contract that you, the customer, commits to. That guarantees that the carrier will not lose money of the offer.

Where prepaid is concerned, there wouldn't be anything stopping you from getting the netbook and never using the carrier's broadband service. You'd basically be getting a really cheap mini laptop at the expense of someone else.

That said, prepaid carriers do actually subsidize some of their handsets (despite what you'll see other state regarding prepaid carriers not subsidizing). Not as much as they do for postpaid, but it's often enough whereby if the customer doesn't stick around for three, four, or even five months, they'll lose money on that customer. The hope is that they'll make more on those that like the price of the phone and ultimately like their service and stay with them, than they lose on those who bail early.

So, what does this all mean in terms of your question? Well, I think that it will be awhile before carriers will figure out a business model for prepaid netbooks that will work, and actually bring it to market. And when and if they do, they won't be subsidized to the same level as for people who sign up for a contract. As much as I'd like to see this happen, it's only fair, don't you think? ;-)

Rest assured that when prepaid netbooks become available, or it even smells like it could be a possibility, you'll find new content on this site, and I'll also include it in my blog and monthly newsletter!

In the meantime, feel free to read more about Netbooks.

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