MVNO Red Pocket challenges market leader TracFone with support for all Tier 1 U.S. wireless carriers

MVNO Red Pocket now appears to support all of the nation's Tier 1 wireless carriers, including Verizon Wireless (NYSE: VZ), AT&T Mobility (NYSE: T), Sprint (NYSE: S) and T-Mobile US (NYSE:TMUS). América Móvil's U.S. TracFone Wireless unit is the only other major MVNO in the United States that supports all of the nation's top carriers.

"We cannot name our underlying network providers," Joshua Gordon, Red Pocket's president, wrote in response to questions from FierceWireless. "Red Pocket Mobile works with ALL the best wireless networks in America."

As noted by Prepaid Phone News, Red Pocket's website now offers service from what appear to be the nation's four top operators. Although the network operators are not named, Red Pocket's website lists:

  • A blue "GSMA" operator that provides "The Largest GSM Network in the Country" (the A in GSMA likely refers to AT&T, which brands its service in blue colors and operates a GSM network).
  • A red "CDMAV" operator that provides "Reliable, Incredible Coverage" (the V in CDMAV likely refers to Verizon, which brands its service in red and operates a CDMA network).
  • A magenta "GSMT" operator that provides "Blazing Speeds" (the T in GSMT likely refers to T-Mobile, which brands its service in magenta colors and operates a GSM network). Red Pocket also notes that it supports 4G LTE services from the GSMT carrier.
  • A yellow "CDMAS" operator that allows users to "Bring Your Own Sprint Device" (the S in CDMAS likely refers to Sprint, which brands its service in yellow and operates a CDMA network). Red Pocket also notes that it supports 4G LTE services from the CDMAS carrier.

Red Pocket offers four "flagship" prepaid plans that work across all the operators, starting with a $29.99 per month plan that includes unlimited talk and text and 500 MB of high-speed data, and ranging to a $59.99 per month plan that includes unlimited talk and text and 3 GB of high-speed data. The company also offers other, carrier-specific plans, such as the $34.99 per month plan for CDMAV (Verizon) that offers 300 minutes of talk, unlimited text and 2 GB of high-speed data.

"'High Speed' mobile internet denotes up to 4G LTE speeds on GSMT and CDMAS Flagship Plans, and 3G speeds on GSMA and CDMAV Flagship Plans," Red Pocket writes on its site. "Compatible devices required for high speed mobile internet access. 'Reduced Speeds' denote mobile internet speeds slowed to approx. 64-128kbps, which is normally adequate for most mobile internet activities, such as email, social media (eg., Facebook) and maps, but is not suitable for video or audio streaming."

Red Pocket also offers plans for tablets and laptops.

Red Pocket was an AT&T MVNO until August 2013, when it added services from Sprint. In December 2013 it added mobile Internet services from T-Mobile to its lineup. Earlier this year the company confirmed it is evaluating plans to support device financing payment options. Such plans would allow customers to pay for their devices in monthly installments rather than in one lump sum.

The dramatic expansion by Red Pocket puts the company squarely in line to compete with TracFone, which got its start in 1996 as Topp Telecom under the direction of Frederick J. Pollak (who also goes by F.J. Pollak). In 1999 Topp Telecom attracted the attention of billionaire Carlos Slim's Telefonos de Mexico, which purchased a controlling interest in Topp for $57.5 million. The next year Telefonos de Mexico became América Móvil and Topp became TracFone.

TracFone, which today counts fully 25.5 million customers, was able to fortify its business by selling wireless service through all of the nation's top wireless carriers. According to industry observers, TracFone has been able to keep its pricing plans inexpensive by working its MVNO partners against each other, selling services from whichever would give it the best deal.

Now, with similar support from all the major carriers, Red Pocket is now in a position to do something similar. Most of the nation's MVNOs only support services from one major carrier.

Red Pocket's Gordon said the company does not offer MVNE (mobile virtual network enabler) services.

For more:
- see this Prepaid Phone News article

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