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Prepaid Subscriptions Decline in 2014

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ShareTracker has released their study of 2014 wireless communications trends, specifically comparing customer growth in the postpaid and prepaid industry. And, as it turns out, prepaid customers have declined in the last two years, while postpaid subscriptions have increased.

Here’s a chart they released along with the report:

ShareTracker_Net_Adds_2014

From 2013 to 2014, ShareTracker reported a 156% increase in postpaid net adds, while prepaid services declined about 35% during the same period. It is worth noting that by ‘wireless’ the company is not only referring to phone service, but also tablets and mobile hotspots that use data services. The study includes about 10% of all mobile subscribers in the US–supposedly the largest sampling of any research company.

I think it’s likely that some of that growth is simply in the form of tablets and hotspots, but it certainly can’t account for all of it. The “Uncarrier” movement to move postpaid phone services away from contracts has likely lured a lot of prepaid customers away from the MVNOs and back to regular carriers as well. I’ve read several expert opinions that suggest that eventually postpaid and prepaid will merge, and I can definitely see things heading that way. We’ll know more when the 2014 Q4 earnings are posted.