Friday, August 03, 2007

What happened...Tracfone and more...

Well, sorry to everyone who was left hanging as to what in the world I've been doing since Sunday-ish...I certainly wasn't putting the "new" in news by posting here. But let me explain. Then of course a aundry list of prepaid happenings...and observations...

About my prolonged absence, I was in Vidor, Texas...and as I write am on my way back from there...on a mission trip of sorts. In a nutshell, a large group from my small church worked to rebuild a hurricane-damaged (Rita) house and put on a "Backyard Bible Club" nearby. I was part of the team that did the latter. It was a great trip, though I didn't have much time for internet and was limited to 1x browsing...though it was obvious from the flickering of status icons on my phone that an EvDO launch was imminent...

But to the topic of all things prepaid...

First off, Tracfone has updated their website. Their phone buying module is now integrated into the design of their main website (for the first time ever) and promotions have been updated a bit along with the facelift.

I'd like to apologize for not reporting the short (maybe a day or two) usage of none other than the Nokia 2126 as the CDMA "twofer" phone...a real steal if you as me...but that hot deal unfortunately passed very quickly and we're again left with Nokia 2285s in that area. However Tracfone is now giving phones away with their double minute 1-year cards (going back to when the older double minute card was also pitched with free phones, with the same $139.99 cost), and the phones aren't that hat shabby. For CDMA areas, the free phone is a refurbished LG 3280. For AT&T areas it's the Motorola c261. For other GSM areas it's the Motorla v170. All phones but the LG are sold piecemeal for thirty bucks so it's really not a raw deal if you're wanting that much airtime anyway. This time around the "free" phones are halfway decent, especially when contrasted against the low-end twofer models.

Next on news bits, Verizon has bought Unicel...or rather its parent compsny, following relatively closely on AT&T's acquisition of Dobson CellularOne. Except Verizon is converting Unicel's underlying technology to CDMA so its coverage areas, and subscribers, will be native Verizon property, though thankfully GSM roaming is still gonna be possible, as it's a cash cow for VZW. What this means is that Verizon prepaids, as well as CDMA based providers that roam on Verizon, will get a boost in coverage. Specifically Tracfone and Page Plus, which is cool. Especially since it's a win-win situaton what with GSM service sticking around.

Even though I prefer Sprint to Verizon for substantiated fanboy reasons...go VZW!

Lastly, Amp'd isn't dying totally...it's turning into a zombie, in exactly the style of SunRocket, by being acquired by USA Telecom and being "integrated" (turned into, for all practical purposes for all emaining subscribers) Prexar Mobile. How that name rolls off the tongue I dunno, but their offering I'm sure has the designers of Amp'd rolling in their graves...

First off, a probably unrelated news bit knocks one of the four Amp'd phones out of commission: bugs (?) have led Verizon to decommission all Motorola e816 "Hollywood" phones. PC Magazine loved this phone when it came out and I'm wondering what in the world the problems were that knocked this phone off the network...at least, now that Amp'd is gone. But hmmm...

That leaves basically Slider Remixes, Razrs and a few Q's to convert to Prexar, or even if you were in a contract leave for elsewhere. Prexar's offering is slim: plans that at first glance are like Verizon proper's. Except they might be a little cheaper, they eschew mobile to mobile and night/weelend minutes are earlier (7 p.m.) and limited to 3000 a month. Text messaging is 10 cents per message a la carte, or available in bundles that, when compared with Virgin Mobile's offerings, are downright ripoffs. Mobile to mobile can be had but it's just Prexar to Prexar...in other words it's probably not worth having. Phone choice is...um...bad, with four available phones at retail prices (what you pay if you want a bare non-contract phone on postpaid) unless you sign a contract. And even then the prices are lousy.

To top it all off, the deadline to pick your Prexar plan was a few days ago...I really think there were only a few thousand people who made the switch to a service this featureless compared with the provider that just vanished from under their feet.

One last thing, and now I'm off my Prexar soapbox: Airvoice changed their rates just recently. They're now flat-rate and fee-driven...ten cent minutes plus daily and monthly fees. Twenty cents per day to be exact. I would personally defect to Net10 if you use a fair amount of minutes, or Tracfone if you don't, as the fee structure on the new Airvoice doesn't look good considering the alternatives. Though you can use whatever compatible GSM phone you want on Airvoice...the point is that things have changed rate-wise and you may want to consider looking elsewhere because their focus cost-wise has changed as a result.

Well, that's it for now...reviews for the Nokia 6030 and Motorola c168i coming soon!

1 comment:

AKmaro1 said...

Thanks for the news about Verizon buying Unicel, and expanding their roaming area as well. I've been a Tracfone customer for years, and am looking to upgrade my current phone (a Nokia 5180i series, ugh!). I stumbled across your site, and was immediately hooked. Your reviews have helped tremendously. My biggest decision right now is to either go with a GSM or CDMA phone, CDMA seems to be winning in my own tests so far. So thanks for the great site! I'll be sure to post more often, and keep up the great work!