Skip to main content

In 2021, prepaid carriers need to offer more besides the basics

It's time to step up and do better.

Talk, text, and data are the core features of a phone plan, but now that coverage has reached equilibrium for many people, prepaid carriers need to offer more than the basics. Carriers are beginning to differentiate themselves on the extras they pack in with their plans, such as subscriptions to streaming services or offering services like scam call blocking.

Some of the best values in wireless right now like Mint Mobile and Visible stick to the basics, but with more carriers offering similar levels of service for around the same price, these simple carriers are looking increasingly interchangeable. For a prepaid carrier to stand out in 2021, it's going to need to offer a more complete package to stand out. Each of the best MVNO carriers have something to help it stand out.

What are the basics in 2020?

Unlimited talk and text is a no brainer and with carriers like Ting offering it for $10 per month, it's hard to justify anything less.

I expect every carrier to come with a few basics. Unlimited talk and text is a no brainer and with carriers like Ting offering it for $10 per month, it's hard to justify anything less.

These days, people could get by on a small number of minutes and texts thanks to these activities taking place more and more on a data connection. For example, any message you send through a messenger like WhatsApp, Telegram, Line, Facebook Messenger, or Discord uses data to send the message. Same with calls made through these services.

There's no benefit to frustrating customers by asking them to count texts or minutes every month. There are still some carriers that offer service with a limited number of texts or minutes, but they only serve to show how bad of a value they are.

Finally, every plan carrier should offer fast enough speeds to use a smartphone without issue. Some carriers like Cricket and US Mobile put a speed cap on some of their plans. US Mobile's 5 Mbps speed cap on its base unlimited plan feels quite old fashioned. If you're unaffected by the speed cap, you probably didn't need unlimited data in the first place. Comparatively, US Mobile's rates are still very good even when you add $5 for data at modern speeds. I struggle to find a positive for customers in a 5 Mbps, uncapped data plan.

Get more from your plan

Mint Mobile LTE performance

Unlimited 2G data is one of the nicest things to normalize in the last couple of years. That is, once you've used all of your data, your connection still works at a speed that can send basic messages and emails. Almost all plans labeled as unlimited come with some sort of cap regardless of the carrier, though most of the time it's well above the threshold that would affect most people. Overages are a major hassle and if you're trying to save money on a phone plan, having a surprise charge on your bill can be a real drag.

5G shouldn't be a premium feature, especially when you've already paid for a compatible phone.

Another thing all prepaid carriers should be jumping on is 5G at no extra cost, especially sub-6 5G. Most carriers are on board with this, including Visible and Metro by T-Mobile, but some AT&T options do not. Notably, AT&T-owned brand Cricket only offers 5G on one of its phone plans. Arguably, 5G doesn't matter much with Cricket's slow data speeds on all but its top plan, but that also shuts customers out of potential coverage improvements with 5G. 5G shouldn't be a premium feature, especially when you've already paid for a compatible phone.

Another consideration is hotspot data. With people relying on tablets and Chromebooks to get work done, it makes sense to let customers use their mobile data any way they want. A lot of carriers offer hotspot data in either a lower speed simply shared with the mobile data pool, so it's a much smaller issue than it once was. This makes it very hard to recommend a carrier with no hotspot capability at all.

Mobile hotspot support on the Pixel 3 with Google Fi

Finally, many people want to be able to use their phones internationally. Boost Mobile and Google Fi have made international service some of their biggest selling points. It's a nice way to stand out and if I'm asked to recommend a carrier for someone that travels out of the country a lot, there's no better choice than Google Fi even with its higher price than competitors. If you need to go to Mexico, Boost Mobile has some of the best rates on data in Mexico.

Subscriptions and software extras

So far, all of these features have been fairly standard and most carriers will offer them as upgrades or add ons if they're not included with the base plan. One aspect of phone plans that has been growing rapidly is the inclusion of extra services that you would typically pay for separately. While this is surely aimed at increasing your reliance on the brand and making it slightly more inconvenient to switch carriers, many people can score some solid deals on services they use.

One of the most interesting examples is US Mobile. While US Mobile is mostly known for simple plans that can be customized, it has started offering unlimited family plans with up to four lines. If you have at least three lines on your plan, you get to choose one perk which includes most of the major options for music or video streaming, as well as access to online gaming services like PlayStation Plus and Xbox Live. Most of these subscriptions cost around $10 per month.

Do you already pay for any of these?

It's not as if US Mobile's plans are any more expensive than competitors either. If you need four lines of unlimited data and typically pay for one of the services US Mobile offers, it's a solid value. If you're fine dropping high-speed data and hotspot from some of the lines, it's a great value. Grandma's phone, for example, is probably fine with the 5 Mbps speed cap.

Google Fi includes 100GB of Google One cloud backup. While this isn't a huge expense, it is a nice inclusion if you want to keep full-resolution photos backed up or just need quick access to large files across devices. Sometimes it's also nice for travelers to be able to factory reset their phones for a trip across the border knowing data can be restored later with an internet connection. It makes sense for a carrier with an international roaming focus.

Metro by T-Mobile also includes the same Google One package with its unlimited plans. Metro also adds an Amazon Prime membership to its larger plan which ticks a lot of boxes for streaming and shopping needs. Metro by T-Mobile also brings one of T-Mobile's great features down to the prepaid brand, Scam Shield. If you're getting a lot of scam calls on your phone, Scam Shield can work wonders.

Get the right fit

You can get every one of these extra features individually, and if you're clever, you can probably get it cheaper. There will always be a need for a basic carrier with talk, text, and data for a reasonable price and there's nothing stopping a carrier from offering this option. The problem is that for most people, a prepaid carrier can be drawn from a hat and there will be little difference in the quality of service. To differentiate themselves, they need to offer more of the complete package that people have come to expect.

Prepaid carriers aren't just a budget option anymore for those with low credit scores. Prepaid carriers have become real options for even heavy users that need consistent coverage and fast speeds from their phones. The carriers that can significantly differentiate themselves from the major postpaid carriers or old-school phone card brands like Google Fi or US Mobile make a lot of sense for many people. It's also fairly easy to switch from one of the major carriers and you can even bring your phone and number in many cases.

Still, I'm glad there are so many options available and if you're willing to put in some research, you can find the perfect fit for you. For me, I just want a ton of high-speed data and coverage that's good enough to forget about.

Source: androidcentral

Popular posts from this blog

Genshin Impact: When does Update 2.0 release in my region?

Best answer: Server maintenance for Genshin Impact Update 2.0 will begin at 6 a.m. China Standard Time on July 21 (6 p.m. ET / 3 p.m. PT on July 20). Maintenance is expected to last around five hours and will occur simultaneously for everyone. Does Genshin Impact server maintenance vary by region? Regardless of what time the server maintenance occurs, it will happen simultaneously for everyone. Server maintenance generally lasts around 5 or 6 hours, but given that Update 2.0 is the biggest one yet, it could potentially take even longer. Update 2.0 will release worldwide on July 20 or 21 depending on your time zone. What does Genshin Impact Update 2.0 include? There's a whole lot of content coming with Genshin Impact Update 2.0 . One of the biggest additions is the Inazuma region, which will be the first major region to be added to the game since its launch. It consists of six major islands with ports, mountains, shrines, villages, and more. With Inazuma also comes a new A

How to watch Love Island 2021: Live stream the new series online

Are you ready for another summer of love? A new group of hopefuls is set to descend on the Balearic Island of Majorca for the UK's most talked-about TV dating show. Watch every match-making moment with our Love Island 2021 live stream guide below, and watch the show no matter where in the world you are. After a coronavirus-enforced break from the screens last year, the show returns with Laura Whitmore back to host the romantic action and comedian Iain Stirling once again providing his wise-crackingly sarcastic voiceovers. There's £50,000 up for grabs for the reality show's winner, but that's likely to be some way down the pecking order of what's on the mind of the twenty-something contestants taking part. Viewers in the UK have been given an early glimpse of this season's hopefuls who include a teacher who has never been on a date before and the show's first physically disabled contestant. The last series to be broadcast from Mallorca was won in 201

There are many ways to copy and paste things from your Chromebook

It should come as no surprise that as time has passed everyone by, the best Chromebooks have progressed and become true productivity machines. And while there are a lot of awesome Chromebook tips and tricks that you won't find elsewhere, you'll likely want to know how to do some of the more basic tasks. One such task performed a plethora of times per day is simply copying and pasting text or other items from one place to another. So here's how you can copy and paste on a Chromebook. How to copy and paste with the touchscreen Locate the text that you wish to copy and paste. Double-tap the screen on the text that you wish to copy. Drag the highlight handles to highlight all of the text you want to copy. From the pop-up menu, tap Copy . Navigate to the area where you wish to paste the text. Tap and hold in the space where you wish to paste. Tap Paste from the menu that appears. Using the touchscreen on your Chromebook can be a bit finicky from time

Unmaze for Android is a stunning adventure through a sinister labyrinth

In a world of light and shadow, guide your loved ones through the maze before monstrosity overtakes them. Your little brother and your boyfriend have been missing for two days. Search parties and authorities aren't turning up any leads, and there's been a string of unsolved missing person cases in your town recently. Looking for answers, you find a strange blue crystal and some ominous notes about a lost civilization in your brother's room. And when you look into the crystal, you can see and hear your boyfriend?! This fascinating horror mystery setup is how Unmaze kicks off, and the plot only thickens from there. You play as Ariadne, a young woman trying to help recover her boyfriend, Theseus, and her younger brother, Asterion, from a mystical maze that she can only see through the crystal she found in Asterion's room. This phenomenal, weird title is definitely going in with the best Android games . Mechanically speaking, the gameplay in Unmaze is very simple,