Friday, September 23, 2011

The End-Around

There's more than one way to get what you want from wireless. Great phones? Low Prices? If we can't get it from the carriers themselves, there are other ways. We've been maintaining a list of "alternative networks" which gives you a way to dump your carrier but stay on their network. If you wanted to use the Verizon network, you could sign up for Page Plus instead, and pay quite a bit less. You could enjoy the AT&T network by grabbing a GSM Tracfone or just a Stargate SIM. While your phone selections would be smaller, you could be saving some bucks and still be on the same network.

This process recently moved to the next level. First, the carriers themselves started offering cheaper prepaid services such as Verizon's Prepaid as low as $50 per month for Unlimited Talk & Text. Then there's Straight Talk that now offers a phone model for each of the Top 4 cellular networks including an Android phone that uses Sprint's 3G network. This past week, Cricket announced they will offer their phones at all Best Buy stores whether or not they're in Cricket markets. In non-Cricket locations, the phone will access the Sprint 3G network just as if you were on Cricket's own network, so you access the Sprint network at Cricket's lower prices.

The 3rd end-around is a little farther over the horizon. Sign up today for one of T-Mobile's value-priced plans and you could end up as an AT&T customer at less than AT&T rates. If AT&T should lose out on their quest to buy T-Mobile, you will still be left on a stronger and broader T-mobile network that could end up in the hands of a different and more enlightened buyer. Now that the transaction is headed to court, don't expect this end-around to produce fruit for maybe a year.

Confusing for the casual wireless shopper? Yes. For the rest of us...opportunity!

Friday, September 16, 2011

New Prepaid Skirmishes

This past week saw several moves that made Prepaid wireless even more desirable. AT&T was first by making their AT&T GoPhone more competitive with a $25 monthly plan. The new plan includes 250 Voice minutes and Unlimited Text (SMS) for 30 days. Their $50 plan, which comes with Unlimited Talk and Text, will still be available. In addition, AT&T will offer an international calling package for Prepaid and has expanded GoPhone roaming to Canada. GoPhone is already one of our preferred choices for roaming calls in Mexico. AT&T's new plan will be available this Sunday (9/18).

Then Verizon Wireless announced a new Prepaid plan at $50 that includes Unlimited Talk, Text and Web. Unlimited Web is confined to "feature" phones, Unlimited data for Smart phones is an additional $30. You can add Email for $7 and Verizon offers 4 phones for this new plan. Verizon offers this plan now.

Boost Mobile reacted by saying their $50 Unlimited plan is better because it includes Smart phones, but their new Android phones will incur an additional $5 charge for these plans starting in October. But their 'reducing your price every 6 months' feature still applies.

MetroPCS claims their plans are better because they're cheaper. But one financial blogger claims Verizon's move puts MetroPCS into a better position to be acquired by Verizon, whether that was Verizon's intent or not. Metro's pricing power may be reduced when Verizon's price is similar. If AT&T can have T-Mobile, why can't Verizon have Metro PCS?

Additionally, a sharp-eyed reader alerted us to the fact that Straight Talk Unlimited now offers coverage from your choice of one of the Top 4 carriers, based on phone model, with their new Android phones operating on the Sprint network.

Now it's even more acceptable to Switch to Prepaid. However, look at all the other trends we're facing:

  • We're Switching from Postpaid to Prepaid

  • We're Going Totally Wireless

  • We may be losing 2 of the Top 5 carriers

  • Smart phone plan prices are increasing.

  • Unlimited data is going and data throttling is coming.
We have provided the best online deals for all of these carriers on our Moose Wireless shopping page, and don't forget when you switch to Prepaid, check out one of the only sources of Discount Prepaid Refills. It's a trend, don'tcha know.

Friday, September 9, 2011

What of T-Mobile?

I have been reading everything I can about the AT&T/T-Mobile deal to find a unique view of the future of this transaction. Even the "experts" can't determine what is most likely to happen. We tried to follow the money and found: AT&T stock dropped only 5% when the DOJ opposition was announced and T-Mobile's stock dropped 10%. That tells us the consensus is that the outcome will negatively affect T-Mobile more than AT&T.

The biggest hurdle is that the Department of Justice does not want to lose a 4th national carrier and most of AT&T's potential alternatives call for doing just that. So, as of now, the Feds say T-Mobile must survive. Many have speculated who could come to the rescue. I even listed some possibilities in our comments of May 16, 2011. Any suitor would need to bring 10's of Billions to the table. If T-Mobile actually receives the penalty payment of cash, spectrum and roaming concessions from AT&T, it will be a stronger and more valuable company. This makes the idea of spinning off T-Mobile into its own company a viable option. That means you and I can own it (as stockholders). Wouldn't that be fun?