Sprint is quickly taking reins of the prepaid market with the growing expansion of its Common Cents service to another 500 Wal-Mart Stores in Chicago, New Orleans, Cincinatti, Washington, D.C., and more. Common Cents was launched back in May and offers a cheap pay-as-you-go service promising 7 cents per minute or 7 cents per text. You pay via $20 refill cards that are good for 30 days, or $30 cards that are good for 60 days. As a promotion, Common Cents will also offer an additional 200 bonus minutes for domestic use when the phone is filled for the … Read more
Welcome to the 411, my column answering all your questions about cell phones and cell phone accessories. I receive plenty of questions about these subjects via e-mail, so I figured many of you might have similar queries, too. At times, I might solicit answers from readers if I'm stumped. Send your questions and comments to me at email@example.com. If you prefer to remain anonymous, let me know in the e-mail.
Al Moschner probably wouldn't blame you if you've never heard of Cricket Wireless. But if he has his way, you'll know about his company soon enough.
As the executive vice president and chief operating officer of the nation's seventh-largest wireless carrier, Moschner directs marketing and branding efforts for Cricket's products and services. A subsidiary of Leap Wireless International founded in 1999, Cricket serves 5.3 million prepaid customers in select communities in 25 states, or about a third of the country. Though that focus has served Cricket well over the past year--total revenues for parent company Leap Wireless increased 10.2 percent from the second quarter of 2009 to the same period this year--the carrier isn't standing still. Even as it stays true to its prepaid roots, it is embarking on plans to attract new customers, expand into smartphone content services, and develop the network necessary to become a national carrier.
Last Tuesday, just before Cricket released its first smartphone, the Sanyo Zio, Moschner dropped by CNET's San Francisco offices to talk about how his company and the wireless industry is changing. We covered a range of topics, including the growth in prepaid, an impending music service, cheaper data plans, and, of course, a CDMA iPhone.
Q: You operate your own network, yet you also act as an MVNO (mobile virtual network operator) for Sprint. Why be an MVNO, too? Why not just funnel people onto your own network? A: It's about national reach. An important part of our strategy is to become national. We're not going to stop building out our own infrastructure, but given that real growth in the industry is with prepaid users, we need to be a national carrier today. And more importantly, if you believe that a significant shift of sales is moving to a national carrier footprint, the only way for us to be relevant is to be national.
Q: What's driving the growth in prepaid? Is it just the economy? A: The economy is a very significant piece of it. It's forcing people to question if they can afford a $100-per-month wireless bill. The second is that folks are looking for value. We provide value in our space. We can offer voice and data much cheaper than other carriers. The third point is that consumers are no longer viewing prepaid as something that only someone else buys. There used to be that overhang in [prepaid] for good reason. If you go look at what prepaid was 15 years ago, it was more expensive than postpaid, it offered crummy devices, and it was difficult to get. Now, all of that has changed and prepaid has gone mainstream. We're offering just about everything that the major carriers offer, but at prices that are very compelling.
Any frequent On Call reader will know that in previous columns I've featured CNET users who've had frustrating experiences when buying a phone, adding new services, or just seeking help with an account in a carrier store. I even griped myself about T-Mobile's "upgrade fee" a couple of years ago. As I said then, customers just want to be treated well. They want their questions answered honestly and accurately, and they don't want to feel that there's an "upsale" to every transaction.
Yet, I'm also pretty sure that it's … Read more
Virgin Mobile leaked a teaser on its Facebook page indicating that it will roll out a $40 unlimited monthly prepaid plan, so we called to confirm. Indeed, spokeswoman Corinne Nosal confirmed with us that the company will announce this plan Tuesday. This new unlimited data plan replaces three previous Broadband2Go 30-day pricing plans--$60 for 5GB, $40 for 1GB, and $20 for 300MB.
This is currently one of the best mobile broadband deals we know of. Verizon's mobile broadband plan is $60 for 5GB; Sprint's is $60 for 5GB (3G only) and $60 for unlimited if you're … Read more
Sprint has been pitching its $99-a-month Simply Everything plan as one of its strongest attack points, and it looks like Verizon is finally catching up with a recent report that says the carrier is testing a $99 unlimited plan of its own. Right now Verizon is only testing the plans in certain outlets in Los Angeles and San Diego.
Currently, Verizon's unlimited nationwide talk and text plan is $89.99 with a two-year contract. That price drops to $69.99 a month with the new plan, and the $29.99 data plan on top of that adds up to $… Read more
Five years after Sprint merged with Nextel, the deal remains a controversial topic in the financial world. Not only has the combined company struggled through several difficult quarters, but also Bloomberg recently named the acquisition as one that "never should have happened."
In a review published last Thursday of the 100 biggest takeovers since 2005, Bloomberg ranked the Sprint-Nextel deal as the third worst for shareholder value. According to the report, though Sprint paid $36 billion for Nextel in 2005, the carrier now is valued at $30 billion, including dept. The two transactions that fared worse were McClatchy'… Read more
Apologies, but I got a little ahead of myself on Friday when I told you that the Motorola Droid would get the Android 2.2 "Froyo" update. Though Froyo will arrive as scheduled, the Droid will not receive the tethering and Wi-Fi hot spot features that the update can include.
Verizon Wireless did not disclose the omissions when it announced the update last week, but spokeswoman Brenda Raney has confirmed what Phonescoop first reported this morning. "The Droid by Motorola doesn't have a Wi-Fi transmitter so there is no hardware to support a mobile hotspot," Raney wrote in an e-mail to CNET. Indeed, the Droid can transmit and receive Wi-Fi from a hotspot, but it can't act as a hotpot by itself for other devices.
As for tethering, Raney said that there is no connection on the PC side that will support the feature. Verizon originally promised tethering for the Droid last November, but it never extended its Mobile Broadband Connect service to the Moto handset. Even so, some Droid owners have rooted their handsets or used apps to successfully tether their devices.
Few things are certain in the cell phone world, but one is the regular J.D. Power and Associate study on wireless customer care performance. And after finishing behind Verizon Wireless in the February study, T-Mobile has again risen to the top of the rankings.
In the latest study, which was released Thursday, T-Mobile garnered a score of 777 points out of a possible 1,000. AT&T came in second place with 757 points, Verizon Wireless was third with 749 points, and Sprint Nextel brought up the rear with 734 points. J.D Power did not survey U.… Read more
MetroPCS has announced that it will offer an unlimited everything plan for any customer who buys the BlackBerry 8530. The $60 plan also includes messaging, GPS turn-by-turn navigation, MetroPCS's backup service, Metro Banking, directory assistance, and all taxes are included in the price. The 8530 costs $230 if you buy it from MetroPCS, but that's because there's no contract.