Carrier Wrap: T-Mobile US set to slash prepaid prices; in 700 MHz deal with CenturyLink

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Editor’s Note: Wireless operators are a busy bunch, and as such RCR Wireless News will attempt to gather some of the important announcements that may slip through the cracks from the world’s largest carriers in a weekly wrap-up. Enjoy!

T-Mobile US announced plans to alter its traditional prepaid Pay as You Go offering to provide for a flat-rate, 10-cents-per-minute for calls or per text message, regardless of the amount of money a customer contributes to their prepaid account. The offering is set to take effect Aug. 17.

The rate plan does require a $3 monthly minimum, which includes access to 30 minutes of voice calling or text messaging. Customers can also purchase LTE data passes, priced at $5 for a one day pass of up to 500 megabytes of data or $10 for a one week pass of up to one gigabyte of data.

Currently, T-Mobile US charges 33 cents per minute for voice calls when a customer purchases $10 worth of prepaid calling; 19 cents per minute at the $30 level; 13 cents per minute at the $50 level; and 10 cents per minute at the $100 level. Text messaging is priced at 10 cents per message sent or received.

T-Mobile US CEO John Legere proclaimed last week that the carrier had surpassed Sprint to become the nation’s No. 1 prepaid carrier with 15.64 million no-contract customers on its network. The carrier recently reported that it added 102,000 branded prepaid customers to its network during the second quarter, which was a strong turnaround from the 10,000 branded prepaid customers it lost during the second quarter of last year.

–T-Mobile US has also reportedly signed a deal with CenturyLink’s Actel division to acquire 700 MHz spectrum licenses from the regional telecom provider. Financial terms of the deal were not released.

Published reports in June indicated that T-Mobile US remained on the hunt for 700 MHz spectrum licenses to bolster its coverage footprint. T-Mobile US recently closed on a deal with Verizon Wireless to acquire 700 MHz A-Block spectrum licenses for $2.365 billion and the transfer of some 1.7/2.1 GHz and 1.9 GHz spectrum licenses to Verizon Wireless that T-Mobile US valued at $950 million. T-Mobile US has said it expects to begin taking advantage of the new licenses by the end of this year, providing customers with better in-building and geographic coverage.

Verizon Wireless recently expanded its push-to-talk platform to its LTE network in the form of its Push to Talk Plus offering. The service, which continues to be powered by Kodiak Networks’ platform, includes claims of faster set-up times and improved call quality.

New features of the move include a “talker priority” feature that allows a group call initiator to override a call and be the only speaker; a “late join” feature that lets a person join a group call after it has already been initiated; and a “rejoin” feature that allows participants to leave and rejoin a group call while it’s in session. The offering also supports calls made over a Wi-Fi connection.

The service is available across some smartphones, including the Motorola Droid Maxx, Samsung Galaxy S5 and Casio G’zOne Commando, with support soon to launch for the Kyocera Brigadier. Pricing for the service is set at $5 per month, with Verizon Wireless offering the first six months for free.

Vodafone New Zealand signed a deal with Nokia Networks to launch LTE services running across 700 MHz spectrum. The offering, which taps into the Asia Pacific Telecommunity 700 MHz LTE standard, is expected to launch initially in Papakura.

Nokia Networks said the launch will be based on the addition of “6-pipe RF module for APT 700 MHz” supporting multiple input, multiple output on up to three sectors in a single unit. The equipment is also said to support LTE-Advanced carrier aggregation technology across the 700 MHz band.

Vodafone New Zealand had tapped Nokia Networks to help launch its initial LTE service last year. That service runs across the carrier’s 1.8 GHz spectrum holdings.

In addition to adoption across parts of Asia, the APT 700 LTE standard has also been selected by a number of Latin American countries.

Additional carrier news can be found on the RCR Wireless News “Carriers” page.

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Dan Meyer

Editor-in-Chief, Telecom Software, Policy, Wireless Carriers
[email protected]
Dan Meyer started at RCR Wireless News in 1999 covering wireless carriers and wireless technologies. As editor-in-chief, Dan oversees editorial direction, reports on news from the wireless industry, including telecom software, policy and wireless carriers, and provides opinion stories on topics of concern to the market such as his popular Friday column “Worst of the Week.”

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