Sprint Announces Plans For Fourth Prepaid Mobile Brand

As they continue to lose traditional contract subscribers, Sprint has begun focusing more and more attention on the prepaid mobile market. Today, the company announced it’s about to launch a fourth prepaid mobile brand.

The yet-unnamed brand will join Sprint Nextel’s current prepaid lineup of Boost, Assurance Wireless and Virgin Mobile.

While these existing brands offer per-minute plans, their target consumer has been those looking for low-price monthly rates that don’t require long-term contracts. Sprint says the new brand will be aimed at those who only use their cell phones infrequently — specifically middle-aged consumers — and who could be enticed by a low-cost per-minute plan.

According to Sprint, while the company lost 578,000 traditional contract customers last quarter, they gained 348,000 users for its prepaid mobile services.

“People will look at 2010 as a tipping point,” said the head of Sprint’s prepaid division. “You are going to see more growth clearly from prepaid, and that will be the case for Sprint as well.”

In addition to the new prepaid brand, Sprint announced a revamp of the Virgin Mobile plans. For $25/month, they’re offering unlimited texting, email and Web surfing, plus 300 minutes a month. For $40, the monthly minutes increase to 1,200, and $60 gets you unlimited minutes.

Among the reasons for Sprint’s wanting to increase their prepaid base is the lower cost of signing up a new customer. The company says the average cost to them for signing a new traditional contract user is $500, compared to only $100 for a prepaid user. Meaning that it only takes around six months for the company to break even on a prepaid customer, while it takes at least a year to reach the same level with a traditional user.

Sprint Nextel Adds Prepaid Brand, Cuts Prices on Another [WSJ]


Edit Your Comment

  1. eirrom says:

    A 4th prepaid line? Really?

    • blandname says:

      Yeah, since it will use the existing Sprint infrastructure the only costs for Sprint will be marketing and branding. There is also massive pent up demand for low-usage phone plans.

  2. MamaBug says:

    um..this is why i’m super excited that we get out off our sprint contract in november. Are they just trying to corner a market or something?

  3. gStein_*|bringing starpipe back|* says:

    so, why create a new prepaid brand under their umbrella?
    what’s the difference between the 3 they have?

    • Droford says:

      Virgin mobile is for teenagers to twenty something crowd
      Boost seems targeted towards urban market
      I have no idea who Assurance Wireless’ target is.

      • TheSpatulaOfLove says:

        I think Assurance may be for the oldest demographic…But that ‘Depends’.

  4. speedwell (propagandist and secular snarkist) says:

    For $25/month, they’re offering unlimited texting, email and Web surfing, plus 300 minutes a month.

    Wow, really, that’s my price point right there. Not up on the VirginMobile site yet, though.

    • Pastry Minion says:

      Yeah, even factoring in the $150 ETF I’d have to eat to get away from regular Sprint, I’d still come out way ahead within a year if that Virgin Mobile plan is for real. I hate Sprint and I hate my phone anyway.

    • EarlNowak says:

      Plans launch May 15th, I think. It’s pretty compelling for people who text and email more than talk (like me), especially since they’re going to offer a blackberry with full blackberry service (push email, app store).

      You can get a sneak peek at their new plans here: http://vmu.refresh.alpha.virginmobileusa.com/home.html

      • pecan 3.14159265 says:

        I really like that plan but their phones are terrible. If I had to, I could use a Blackberry, but I really prefer my iPhone. After AT&T loses exclusivity to the iPhone, whoever can jumpstart a pre-paid iPhone first gets my money.

      • matt314159 says:

        I’m almost tempted to switch from my SERO 500 plan (already one of the best plans around) to the 300 minute plan + blackberry. Where else can you get unlimited text, web, data, and BIS for only $35? That’s amazing!

    • xredgambit says:

      I saw this earlier today and I’m totally going to switch. They even mentioned some new phones. I was eyeing verizon with my emp discount would be like $72 a month for a droid

    • Krobar says:

      yep same here, wife has been asking me to find us something cheaper than our current tmobile as we mostly text and rarely hit 300 minutes out of our 700 we have with Tmobile, this means tmobile better hope not to do anything contract breaking cause the only thing holding me back at this point is the ETF’s heh

    • john says:

      Too bad their signals suck and they use CDMA. I would switch for that price.

      • c_c says:

        Depends where you live. I get better reception here w/ Sprint vs. VZW and ATT… and is CDMA really that horrible?

  5. cnega says:

    hmm..my verizon bill with company discount – 450 minutes w/free nights & weekends, unlimited web and email, 1500 text messages = $81.69.

    And sprint is going to give me this plan with unlimited texts and 750 more minutes for $40.00?!?!?

    Besides the potential of having a crappy phone since I’m unfamiliar with their brand, is there a downside to this?

    • Yoko Broke Up The Beatles says:

      For one, you might have to buy a new phone. But, the money you save per month might be able to off-set the cost within a year (maybe 6 months or less, depending on how much you spend on said phone).

    • bvita says:

      Yes. Sprint customer service. Long regarded as the worst and most incompetent in the industry.

    • GinaLouise says:

      I’ve had good customer service with Virgin Mobile, and it’s really cheap, but the reception is absolutely terrible. I live in California (near Santa Barbara), and the places where I have “no bars” outnumber the places where I have decent reception. But if you live in a big city, and not in a downstairs apartment, and not anywhere near a mountain, you should be OK.

  6. Yoko Broke Up The Beatles says:

    Folks, you can still beat these prices with StraightTalk prepaid – from Wal-Mart. I have it and I love how much money I’m saving!

    • speedwell (propagandist and secular snarkist) says:

      They have unlimited talk and text? Hmm.

    • Pastry Minion says:

      Shockingly, I don’t actually have a local Walmart. And I try not to shop there anyway, so I probably wouldn’t go for Straight Talk even so.

    • LastError says:

      No you can’t, not unless StraightTalk has fixed their awful excuse for web surfing.

      They also had a pretty bad customer service reputation early on, as in, not having anyone to even tell you they couldn’t help.

      Sprint at least has plenty of people who will tell you they cannot help, and actual web surfing and email that works.

  7. Chuchundra says:

    I’m still looking for a pre-paid plan that offers:

    1) Reasonable per-minute or monthly charges for someone who doesn’t make or receive as lot of phone calls
    2) Reasonable data/web surfing with an affordable monthly charge or a decent charge per MB
    3) A nice smartphone that I’d be willing to pay full price for.

    Right now I’m on T-Mobile Prepaid. I get #1 on my list. I pay about $100 a year in voice calling. #2 is a no go and #3 is somewhat possible if I bought an unlocked phone on eBay, although that would be worthless without #2.

    • GearheadGeek says:

      Good luck on the “reasonable data rates” thing on prepaid in the US. It’s what keeps me on the postpaid side of things, there’s not much point to a nice smartphone without data service, and charges rack up fast. There are a few “meh” options like MetroPCS if you’re in one of their 3G markets.

    • iyou says:

      I buy my minutes from t-mobile in $100 blocks, as I imagine you do, since you mention the one-year bit (the minutes purchased at this level are good for a year, so it’s a good deal). But I wanted to respond to your question about getting an unlocked phone. I bought mine from cellhut.com, and have been very happy with it. Have you checked them out?

  8. katia802 says:

    I don’t text. I don’t websurf on my phone, or e mail. I make perhaps 10 calls per month on my cell phone, none of which last more than about 5 minutes. Even this deal sprint is offering is more than i’m spending on my crappy little tracphone right now. All this points out to me is that i really AM a hermit!

    • pecan 3.14159265 says:

      I’m guessing you have a landline, right? When I moved out of my parents’ house I made sure to not get a landline. Any phone calls I make to customer service or to anyone are made with my cell phone. That’s pretty much the reason why I can’t justify a pre-paid line. I’d spend even more than I do now if I had to pay 10 cents a minute when it took about an hour and a half on the phone with tech support to fix my internet.

      • katia802 says:

        If I didn’t have a landline, I couldn’t get away with this prepaid phone. I use the landline about as much as I do the prepaid, but want insurance if there’s an emergency I can call 911 without having to run down the street hunting for someone who’s home. When I gave up my landline just for my cell, the one time I needed to call for an ambulance the battery was dead (had 1 teen 1 pre teen in the house, should have known better). Once situations change at home, i’ll probably give up the prepaid and go the same way you are doing.

    • dangermike says:

      Same here, but I bought myself a fancy little Nokia E51 and run it through T-mobile-to-go. The savings in moving from Sprint’s lowest tier monthly package to the prepaid plan paid for the $300 phone in about 9 months, and I’ve just been money ahead for the last year and a half.

  9. larrycl says:

    The “yet unnammed” phone service is in fact, named Common Cents Mobile.
    The website was up earlier today http://www.commoncentsmobile.com but is now down.

    The rates shown earlier were: Pay as you go $0.07 / min (with round-down minutes), $0.07/text, must add $20 every 60 days , so a minimum of $10/mon. Autorefill avail at $15 (so lowers min monthly cost to $7.50)
    Text messaging packs available $20/mon for unlimited text. Data avail for $1/MB/day.
    Must use their phones.

  10. YouDidWhatNow? says:

    I switched to Straight Talk a while ago…1000 minutes plus 1000 texts plus 30Mb of data for $30 a month.

    There’s no way in hell I could ever use the 1000/1000 – the internet service is a lot slower on the Samsung slider I got from them than I’m used to though, so that’ll probably help me not use the 30Mb either. Which to be honest, is fine…for $30 a month I’ll deal with it.

    The only catch is that their phones ONLY work on the Verizon network – they won’t roam. So if you manage to find yourself someplace without Verizon service, you’re SOL. Naturally, though, considering Verizon’s coverage, that’s pretty unlikely. So I’ll deal with that too.

    If you travel internationally, even just to Canada, it probably won’t work for you. For others though…well, that’s a hell of a deal for $30 a month. And $45 for unlimited.

  11. sendmoney2me says:

    straight talk’s plans are less. I pay $31.80 total a month for 1000 minutes 1000 text messages and 30 mb of data and it rolls over any unused minutes. it runs on verizons network and you can buy cards at walmart or pay with your debit card online. straight talk is run by tracfone

  12. profauck says:

    Looks pretty good, but CDMA with their phones (whatever they are) doesn’t do much for me. For now I’ll stick with my T-Mobile prepaid. I put in $50 every 3-4 months and use whatever GSM phone I want.

  13. fuceefacee says:

    I’ve used Boost for about a year and really like it. They do need to improve their texting (then again I don’t really text very often) service and laughable cameras that take 4k photos. Wireless contracts are such a crock!!

  14. Nascarfan says:

    No wonder Sprint has gone down hill. The only thing the Board of Directers and it’s CEO want to do is LINE the wallets with money from hard working people before the catch on that their service’s really ……….. Since Sprint took over Nextel they have done not a thing with it’s customers (like inproving their services, better phones, ect, ect) Now they are trying to dump the Nextel’s service by having VERY limited phones (none of which support any of todays high speeds) and very poor coverage areas. GEE as a fan of NASCAR maybe they are the reason the sport is failing.
    Sprint is nothing more then quick money maker for it’s CEO and board members that doesn’t give a damn who or how they rip people off. I can’t wait till 2013 (or sooner when people catch on and they go belly up) and my contract is up.

  15. gabrielpc says:

    Logically if consumers are flocking to non-contract service, just dropping contracts all together would be the right move. Not spending millions to spin off another unnecessary brand.