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Monthly plans the new trend in prepaid

When we started this site, and even when we started the blog, pay-as-you-go was the primary focus in prepaid. Monthly plans were the domain of the postpaid carriers, and while many prepaid services offered monthly plans, it always seemed as though pay-as-you-go was more popular. That, apparently, has changed. Phil Goldstein of FierceWireless reports on a J.D. Power and Associates study which shows that 49 percent of prepaid users are now using monthly plans, up from 30 percent in 2008. Why the change?

There has certainly been an emphasis on unlimited plans since then, which I’m sure played a big part in the shift. While MetroPCS and Cricket have been around for a while, and have offered monthly plans the entire time, other carriers have stepped up lately. Straight Talk entered the scene in 2009. Two of Sprint’s prepaid brands, Boost Mobile and Virgin Mobile, have put a greater emphasis on monthly plans. Then there are new MVNOS, such as PlatinumTel and Simple Mobile, which have offered mainly rate plans, rather than pay-as-you-go rates.

This is good for carriers, of course, as it means more predictable revenues for them. While it’s true that people can still drop the service at any time, they’re still prepaying for a month. With pay-as-you-go, they can drop the service whenever their minutes run out. At the same time, this is beneficial to consumers, in that they can get monthly services on the cheap. I expect that in another year we’ll see another uptick in monthly prepaid plans vs. pay-as-you-go.