I thank you for subsidizing my pageplus phones and keeping the cost low
MVNO's have contracts, so the line owners just can't turn the off, and in the case of Sprint (VM/Boost) are actually owned by Sprint.
In the case of Pageplus, part of the original spectrum swaps has PPC getting access to Verizon (they are the only MVNO) as part of those conditions. I haven't found an area where a PPC phone doesn't work in my travels.
Prepaid has come a long way since the days you are referring to.
My wife VM, is $25/month for 300min unlimited text/data. If she goes over, VM just charges $10c/min. You just keep money in your account.
My old verizon line was $120 for my thunderbolt last year (I wasn't paying). Granted it was unlimited everything, but those days are over. So it takes me 5 months to get what my company was paying for one month of Verizon. I like big red, but not if I'm paying.
Sprint is even allowing 4G LTE on MVNO as soon as it's available on postpaid.
I love contract people. They pay the profit margins for the bigwigs and wall street, and dump their phones on ebay for a song.
Us bottom feeders get used phones and pay reasonable rates. In fact if you want the latest phone, you can pay full price just like Verizon will make you if you want to keep unlimited.