The big 4 can squeeze out MVNO's anytime If their postpaid plans lose more & more subscribers, they will get in to the prepaid mkt big time and drive out the MVNOs. And most independent prepaid vendors buy wholesale from the major postpaid vendors. They can be squeezed out at anytime by having to pay higher prices to the big boys for their wholesale contracts. Remember, no one at all regulates those wholesale contracts.
Most? try about 99.9% of them use another network. And you forget - those same major carriers make $$$$ off those prepaid MVNOs. Why not have them on your network? Sprint has thousands/millions on their network; do you really think it costs Sprint really anything to support those customers? HELL NO! Sprint never has to provide support/customer service to any of them, no billing, etc. Those MVNOs pay Sprint and Sprint sits back and lets a computer do all the work.
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VZW *itself* has been in the prepaid market since 2004 - I pointed out that my original prepaid account was with VZW. However, it hasn't been until recently that you could get data (required by smartphones and even most feature phones) with a prepaid plan from *any* MVNO. How long have even Android phones been available on a prepaid basis? MVNOs resell/remarket on a regional (not national) basis except for TRACFONE/NET10/StraightTalk (and lifeline provider Safelink, which is operated by TRACFONE). Also, name an MVNO (or even a major prepaid/post-paid provider - AT&T Mobility, VZW, etc., that means you) that offers prepaid feature phones. (VZW has ONE smartphone in their pre-paid stable: SAMSUNG's Illusion. While it is powered by Android, its Gingerbread - and it's *not* upgradable to ICS; worse, it's not 4G LTE, either. On top of getting whacked for $80 monthly - thanks to the data requirement - the handset itself will set you back $170 online. Prepaid simply doesn't fly if you have data requirements OR you don't already own a phone.
IowaCowboyWant to go back to IowaPremiumReviews:
Actually VZW has been in the prepaid market since 2001. My first VZW phone (a VZW Prepaid Nokia 5185) that I carried around during my senior year of high school, which I graduated in 2002. They charged 35¢ per minute during the day on weekdays and 10¢ per minute on nights and weekends. They used to call it Freeup. I was only 17 when I signed up so Mom had to give VZW permission to put the prepaid phone in my name. Shortly after I graduated, they let me have postpaid with no deposit.