Generally speaking, auto refill services aren’t really all that exciting as most companies, including Boost and Red Pocket, offer an auto refill program to help make the process of paying for your service a little simpler. Most of the MVNOs that have auto refill service have monthly plans and so it makes sense. But, as it turns out, TracFone also has an auto refill program which could be incredibly useful not just for monthly customers, but for customers who are worried about running out of minutes.
Data is undoubtedly the most expensive part of any phone plan and, of course, it’s also the one that most people want. In the prepaid market especially, it’s nothing to see rates as high as $0.10 per MB (which translates to more than $100 per GB) when using any kind of bucket or pay-as-you-go prepaid plan. But, if you’re not a huge fan of the monthly unlimited option for data, then TracFone might be worth a second look.
Summer is drawing to a close and it won’t be too long before all of the kids are back in school again and schedules become even more crazy than before. For parents looking for a great way to stay in contact with kids during the busy school year, prepaid phones are a fantastic option and now there is one that I am sure some kids will go totally bonkers for. TracFone recently debuted a new Back to School limited edition Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles smartphone aimed at the TMNT lover in your life.
Nearly two years ago, TracFone suddenly stopped selling AT&T services, SIMs and phones with virtually no explanation. Then, with next to no fanfare, last week the company debuted its first GSM AT&T smartphone in years. We mentioned briefly that TracFone looked like it might be soon adding GSM SIMs to its SIM options, and it looks like the rumors were true. TracFone is now officially selling GSM SIM card kits for use with compatible unlocked GSM devices.
TracFone has launched its first AT&T-based Android phone designed to be used on TracFone’s pay-as-you-go service. The LG Sunrise is a slightly boring entry-level device that isn’t going to turn any heads, but is still significant as TracFone’s first step towards allowing GSM AT&T devices on pay go.
The ability to unlock a phone is absolutely essential for prepaid customers, as it allows for freedom of movement between carriers without having to constantly be forking out more money for a phone. Earlier this year, the unlocking agreements that the carriers all made wit the FCC went into effect, with one major exception: TracFone and its subsidiary companies.
Easily the largest of the prepaid carriers, TracFone’s laughable unlocking policy directly violated the terms of agreements with the FCC and after months of arguing that they were following the law, the FCC and TracFone have finally come to an agreement that, yes, TracFone should allow customers to unlock devices. Just don’t expect it anytime soon. In fact, the FCC has given TracFone until 2016 to completely implement these procedures. Here is the basic timeline outlined in the FCC document:
TracFone, one of the largest and oldest prepaid companies in the US has launched a new StaySafe bundle designed for customers who are more interested in using prepaid phones as backup and emergency devices instead of for day-to-day use. I’m not 100% sure when exactly this bundle was first introduced, but it is available right now in select Kroger stores nationwide.
Tracfone is easily one of the largest prepaid companies and has been around since prepaid plans first started gaining popularity years ago. The company has numerous promotions going on for the summer, including two promo codes that could land you some bonus minutes with each purchase.
In January, the FTC ordered America Movil companies to pay consumers who purchased “unlimited” data plans from 2009 – 2013. Companies that were part of this complaint include Tracfone, StraightTalk, Simple Mobile, Net10 and Telcel America, which were ordered to pay a combined $40 million to effected customers. However, the deadline to file a claim is fast approaching, and I wanted drop a quick reminder.
In a world where fewer and fewer companies are offering pay as you go plans and services, TracFone is one of the few who have held fast to its refill card service model. TracFone cards can be purchased at drugstores, mini-marts, dollar stores, gas stations, supermarkets…. just about anywhere you can think of, and they’re surprisingly popular.
For the last few weeks, I’ve been seeing rumors around various sites and forums that Tracfone has been allowing customers to activate LTE phones with their service, but nothing official had been announced and results were variable at best. Well, as of earlier this week Tracfone has officially announced and launched the ability to activate a Verizon LTE phone on its network.
Of course, there are a few restrictions on phones that can be activated. In order to bring an LTE phone to Tracfone, the phone must:
TracFone Wireless has quietly launched the website for a new Verizon-based MVNO this week. Called Total Wireless, this Verizon MVNO has some pretty sweet data sharing plans that are obviously meant to compete with Virgin Mobile’s “Data Done Right” plans which debuted earlier this month.
Total Wireless is expected to be available at select Walmart stores nationwide, and Phone News says that the full fanfare launch is expected sometime in the next couple of weeks. However, from what I can tell, the website is almost fully functional and a soft launch should happen soon.
As far as plans go, here’s what you can expect from the newest America Movil brand:
Tracfone is probably the largest prepaid wireless provider in the US, especially when you count the customers of its other companies. But, when the CITA urged wireless carriers to voluntarily create consumer-friendly unlocking policies (which went into effect this week), TracFone kept quiet and said nothing.
Last week, TracFone finally added their own unlocking policies for smartphones purchased through TracFone, Simple Mobile, Straight Talk and Net10 Wireless. But, before you get all excited, the policy isn’t exactly up to par with the other companies. Here’s what the technical legal jargon on the sites says about unlocking:
The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) filed a complaint against Tracfone and its subsidiary brands, including Straight Talk, Net10, Simple Mobile and Telcel America. The complaint alleges that Tracfone failed to disclose throttling and suspension terms to customers of its prepaid unlimited plans from 2009 to at least September 2013 and that customers were frequently deceived about what they were purchasing.
Tracfone is probably one of the largest prepaid carriers in the US and they’ve been around for a while. When most people think of Tracfone they probably think of old Razr flip phones and pay-as-you-go plans with those cumbersome cards and minute tracking. However, that’s far from the only thing that Tracfone offers.
Tracfone has released their holiday deals a little bit late this year. While they don’t have the most popular phones, if you’re looking for a simple smartphone for a loved one or a good backup phone then Tracfone is a great place to start.
TracFone has launched two new Android phones this week that rival low-end smartphones from other MVNO companies like Boost and Virgin Mobile. It might not sound like much, but coming from a company whose phones are easily five to ten years behind everyone else, this is pretty big news.
October is breast cancer awareness month and in honor of the Susan G. Komen Foundation‘s search for a cure, TracFone has released a limited edition pink TracFone. The pink LG 306G will be available at select Dollar General stores across the country for around $50, and TracFone has promised to donate 10% of all October sales to the Susan G. Komen Foundation.
Alcatel Onetouch has announced the launch of three new smartphones which will be available exclusively through Tracfone and StraightTalk. The Alcatel Onetouch Pop Star LTE, Onetouch Pop Icon and the Onetouch Pop Mega LTE will be available sometime in the next couple of weeks.
Last week, I posted an article comparing all of the Verizon MVNO coverage maps. Several of them were a little surprising, so I thought that I would go through all of the other Tier 1 carriers and compare maps of their MVNOs to see how they stacked up. While most MVNOs share the prepaid network of their primary carrier, some of them skimp on coverage to cut costs, and very few of them offer roaming in areas with no Tier 1 carrier network coverage.
Today, we have a compilation of the AT&T MVNO maps. Most of them shared coverage with GoPhone, but did not offer roaming (represented by the lighter yellow areas). However, the maps were far more similar than the Verizon MVNO maps we saw last week.
So, without any more ado, here are the AT&T MVNO maps:
While Tracfone’s customer service is nothing to brag about, their discount membership program Trac’N’Save is definitely worth a look in you live in the city or love shopping. The program is free to Tracfone customers and only requires you to sign up with your account to start getting benefits, like free airtime.
I read today about a significant possible change to Tracfone‘s policy about transferring minutes and numbers between phones. After calling Tracfone, I’m still a little puzzled about whether or not this change is new, but as it is already in effect either way, I’ll go ahead and tell you about it.
The TracFone coverage map is not easy to find, many visits to the official TracFone site revealed no navigation to a coverage map. TracFone has set the website user interface for sales of selected models in designated area codes. There are secondary sources for the coverage map information, and when one finally gets there, it is impressive http://www.TracFone.com/jsplib/verify_mapcov.jsp. For basic telephone service with a low-cost Motorola model phone, a coverage guesstimate from the color-coded map appears to be well above 95% of the area of the continental U.S.
TracFone has been growing solidly in the past few years, adding hundreds of thousands of subscribers every quarter. That might not sound impressive, but when compared to other MVNOs the numbers certainly stand out. Their latest subscriber additions are the most impressive to date: 839,000. That’s 119,000 more than the nation’s No. 1 carrier, Verizon, and a massive 127 percent increase over TracFone’s own Q1 2012. In the last two quarters combined TracFone has added more than 1.5 million subscribers.
Anyone get excited about flip phones any more? If so, it’s your lucky day. Samsung recently gave us a glimpse of the S275G for Tracfone, which is yet another in its line of low-end feature phones. The skinny: 1.75-inch internal screen, 1-inch external screen, 1.3 megapixel camera with video, and that’s about it. It can play music and video if you’d like, but there just isn’t much memory to store those files. It might not seem like much, but this is the perfect fit for Tracfone. They’re pushing their smartphone customers towards Straight Talk and even Net10, so they might as well continue pumping out low-end handsets for Tracfone. They fit the market that the Tracfone brand is targeting.
Need a solid indicator that prepaid is starting to take a hold of the cellular market? Consider that a carrier that doesn’t even own any cellular towers is the fifth largest carrier in the country — and it is closer to No. 4 than No. 4 is to No. 3. In the fourth quarter Tracfone added 753,000 subscribers, bringing its total to 22.4 million. That covers it us brands: Tracfone, Net10, and Straight Talk. The year 2013 was big for Tracfone in general, with a 13.3 percent increase in subscribers. Much of that goes to the Straight Talk brand, which has captured much of the mid-market with its smartphones paired with affordable monthly plans. People complain plenty about Tracfone customer service, across their brands, but it doesn’t seem to be enough to keep people away.
A strange development is afoot in the wireless world. According to a report on PhoneNews.com, America Movil brands Tracfone, Straight Talk, and Net10 have removed references to AT&T in its bring-your-own-device SIM card program. A visit to these websites does reveal that Straight Talk is offering BOYD support for CDMA devices, unlocked GSM devices, and T-Mobile branded devices, but not AT&T. No one from Tracfone or America Movil has made a statement, leaving much mystery. After all, the two companies have had close relations lately.
Today Tracfone announced a pair of basic Samsung phones for its lineup. Pictured above is the Samsung S425g, which appears to be from the Messenger line of phones. It features a slide-out QWERTY keyboard and not much else. It does have some basic features, such as a media player (with 32GB microSD expansion capability) and a 2.0 megapixel camera with video. But it’s really nothing special. The price should reflect that, though there is no word on pricing or release date yet.
A half a million subscribers might sound like a lot for an MVNO, but not for America Movil, parent company of Tracfone, Net10, and Straight Talk. They added 493,000 subscribers in the fourth quarter of 2011, after adding 1.1 million subscribers in the same period in 2010. While the first and fourth quarters are typically better for wireless carriers than the second and third quarters, America Movil actually added more customers in Q3 2011, 515,000, than they did in Q4. Still, as a whole they did pretty well in 2011.
It might not be the fanciest looking phone, but the Samsung SCH-R375 is headed for Tracfone. Its biggest feature is a QWERTY keyboard. In most respects it’s a low-end phone, featuring a 1.3 megapixel camera and little else. It’s actually a great prepaid phone for texting. There is no word on pricing and release date, but we can assume it will be relatively soon and cheap.
Are you among the growing number of prepaid customers who is charged a 911 fee when buying a top-up card? More and more states are passing laws that attempt to levy on prepaid users the same 911 fees that postpaid users pay monthly. There are some obstacles, the biggest one being the inability to charge such a fee for online purchases. A recent ruling in Kentucky might change all that. U.S. District Judge John G. Heyburn ruled that Tracfone owes the State of Kentucky $4.7 million in 911 fees dating from 2003. Tracfone asserts that it has not paid Kentucky said 911 fees, because they do not apply to prepaid users. This issue is certainly not closed, however. Expect Tracfone to take counter action shortly.
If you’re not familiar with Vonage, it’s a service that provides unlimited local and long distance calling for a flat monthly rate. Think of it as the Cricket and MetroPCS of the landline world. Of course, people are dumping their landlines, so Vonage might need a little help from the cell phone industry. It appears they’ve found it from Tracfone parent America Movil. They inked a deal recently that will provide their customers with “unique offers” for Vonage’s unlimited landline calling plans. By “unique offers” I presume that means substantial discounts. There’s no word on when we will see these offers, but it shouldn’t be too long.
In the first quarter of 2010, America Movil, parent company of Tracfone, made a splash by adding 780,000 subscribers. That’s a huge number for an MVNO, but they do have two other arms, Net10 and Straight Talk, to help bulk up the numbers. In the second quarter they didn’t fare as well, adding just 236,000 subscribers, a number that didn’t even match its second quarter 2010 results. Churn is up a bit, which helps explain the lower numbers. With political talk re-focused on the economy, we could perhaps see Tracfone pick up stronger numbers in the third, quarter, which is typically slow in the wireless world.
Pictured above is the Samsung T528, which recently made a debut at Samsung.com. It’s a touchscreen device that features a 3-inch screen and a 2-megapixel camera. While most new touchscreen devices we see feature the Android operating system, this one comes with Samsung’s own TouchWiz 2.0, which, all considered, doesn’t look too bad. There’s no word on pricing or availability, though the website mentions that it will become available through Tracfone, but that could just as easily mean Straight Talk or Net10. It shouldn’t be too long before we see this one on shelves.
It doesn’t come as much of a surprise, but sometimes you just need to hear a “no.” That’s what Tracfone executives said when asked about the likelihood of a postpaid offering, and of it eventually acquiring its own spectrum. The company has been doing just fine the way it is, adding 780,000 subscribers in the first quarter among its three major brands: Tracfone, Net10, and Straight Talk.
Another first quarter report, another win for prepaid. Both Sprint and MetroPCS did well, and now it’s Tracfone‘s turn. The carrier — including sister brands Net10 and Straight Talk — added 780,000 subscribers in the first quarter. That puts them slightly ahead of MetroPCS and slightly behind Sprint. It also puts them below their Q1 2010, when they added a million subscribers. Nevertheless, that’s still a strong showing, especially amid increased competition.
There is nothing fun about wireless customer service. I read through the user reviews on our featured prepaid providers every day, and I see many, many complaints about nearly every company. I’m not sure which receives the most complaints, but Tracfone is in the conversation. It appears that they’re taking steps to remedy that. They recently announced Facebook support, similar to the type offered by Straight Talk. (They’re owned by the same company.) Just head to the Tracfone Facebook page and click on the Support tab. There you can get FAQs and submit a support ticket. If it’s anything like Straight Talk, it should provide a better experience than calling customer service.
It’s hard to imagine, but Tracfone is the nation’s fifth largest mobile provider — and it doesn’t even operate its own network. The company continued to grow in the third quarter, adding 745,000 subscribers to leave them with 16.7 million. These numbers include not just the branded Tracfone service, but also Net10 and Straight Talk.
Not everyone can afford a cell phone, but cell phones have become a near essential part of our day to day lives. There was a study conducted in 2008 that showed the economic benefits of owning a cell phone, which can make all the difference for a low-income household. Programs like SafeLink work to provide low-income individuals and households with free cell phones and minutes so that they might take advantage and improve their situations. Previously this would provide them with a free phone and 80 minutes per month. Recently Tracfone, the company behind SafeLink, announced changes to its program in the Delaware area.
A few weeks ago we saw reports that Straight Talk, an MVNO of Verizon’s CDMA network, was adding GSM services. This came as a subtle move, as the GSM-based handset, the Samsung T401G, was available only at Wal-Mart. It looks like another GSM handset has made its way to the world’s largest retailer. They now have the LG 620G, a pretty basic slider that features a 1.3 megapixel camera, WAP browser, and media player. You can get it at walmart.com for $68.98.
One of Straight Talk‘s bragging points is that it operates on Verizon’s CDMA network. Even though this does not include the roaming agreements that Verizon’s postpaid customers enjoy, it is, with last year’s absorption of the Alltel network, a very large primary network. The only problem is that some of the markets it doesn’t hit are covered by GSM networks. According to evidence produced by Howard Forums user The Sweeper, it looks like Straight Talk could expand its offering to GSM services.
It’s hard to believe, but the Motorola RAZR is almost six years old. It was the hottest item on the market for the longest time, and then gained additional shelf life when many carriers included it for free with a two-year contract. Verizon actually came under a bit of fire for its version, since it locked out many features of the original RAZR. That Verizon version, the V3m, is available at Straight Talk, and they just announced a refurb version. To answer their headline question, “Dig the RAZR?” no, I don’t. But it’s better than a number of the other clamshells in ST’s lineup, so maybe it’s worth the $100 for All You Need or $115 for Unlimited. At that point, though, I’d just get the Samsung Recon.
At the Straight Talk blog, the company addresses a recent service outage which has caused problems for many customers over the past few days. This has caused a surge in user reviews on our Straight Talk review page, most of which are pretty scathing. While we encourage everyone to share their honest feelings about a cell phone service, many of the comments were completely unnecessary. There is no need to attack someone else for their assessment of a service. In any case, full text of the letter, which really isn’t much, after the jump.
We often hear about the number of wholesale customers added by big carriers like Sprint, AT&T, and Verizon, but we don’t usually hear the numbers from the wholesalers themselves. They are mostly private companies that do not need to disclose their numbers publicly. One exception is Tracfone, subsidiary of public company America Movil. Its three American MVNOs — Tracfone, Net10, and Straight Talk — added a little over a million subscribers in the first quarter (via FierceWireless). That brings their American total to 15.5 million subscribers, making it the fifth most popular carrier in America.
Sticking with their cheap, simple handsets, Tracfone has added the LG 420G. It’s a basic flip phone, featuring a small LCD internal display, external display, Bluetooth, and a VGA camera. Even still, at $20 this phone has value. You can check it out at Tracfone’s website. Also, as The Sweeper at HoFo notes, Wal-Mart could certainly pick this one up, packaging it with a Double Minutes for Life card.
Since last fall Straight Talk has been available at Wal-Mart stores nationwide. The partnership makes perfect sense. I remember back in the early 2000s when Tracfone, which is owned by the same company as Straight Talk, was pumped up big time at Wal-Mart. There were phone displays and refill cards everywhere, from the electronics department to the front checkouts. While the two have partnered for a while, it appears that Wal-Mart will get serious about promotion. RCR Wireless reports that the retail conglomerate will run a TV spot featuring the Straight Talk brand. Putting Straight Talk next to Wal-Mart will only increase the awareness of the brand. It sounds like we could see another big influx of customers to the flat-rate, unlimited service.
Last year Straight Talk too the prepaid sector, and the wireless industry, by storm when they offered their unlimited talk, text, and data plan for $45 per month. It’s a bit limited in what it can do data-wise, but unlimited talk and text is still a good value for $45, especially when it’s running on the Verizonprimary network. This week Straight Talk took things a step further, offering three, six, and one-year plans in addition to their monthly plans. These all include unlimited voice, messaging, mobile web, and 411, and they’re still $45 per month. That’s the only downside. With the auto refill option, you can just sign up for the regular plan and keep renewing. This most benefits those who pay with cash. Instead of paying $45 each month, subscribers can make one payment and forget about it. Of course, at that point they have your money, and there are no refunds, so I’m not sure I’d recommend doing this. Still, if you’re happy with Straight Talk, you now at least have the option.
Some people have a knack for finding new goodies. Among them is HoFo user The_Sweeper. He always picks up things that I don’t see from other people. Most recently it was the addition of four phones to Tracfone. How did he catch this while no one else did? Instead of finding them on the basic shopping page, he found them on the activation page. Clever. These models, two LG and two Samsung for Tracfone, plus a Samsung QWERTY for Net10, aren’t quite available yet, and we don’t know a whole ton about them. What we do know is that they’re headed for these carriers, and the wait shouldn’t be long.
It looks like Leap Wireless is ready to sell. How far talks get is anyone’s guess, but all the talk this week centered on Leap seeking a buyer. While MetroPCS makes the most sense to most people, we’ve heard just about every cellular carrier other than Verizon connected to them. One carrier we haven’t heard much from this time around, but which has been mentioned as a potential buyer in the past is America Movil, parent company of Tracfone. The company doesn’t own any infrastructure in the U.S., though, so it would be quite a change in strategy to acquire some.