Verizon’s new Total prepaid brand takes on Metro, Cricket

As expected, Verizon launched Total by Verizon, a new prepaid wireless brand that replaces the older and slightly less specific “Total Wireless” brand.

In announcing the brand, Verizon said it’s a disruptor in the prepaid industry, with “some of the most compelling plan perks and benefits.” Those include 5G Ultra Wideband network coverage, “generous” hotspot allocations, unlimited talk, text and data and offers for Disney+.

Monthly rate plans start at $30, with $40, $50, and $60 rate plans that include the option to add up to four additional lines for $35 per line. The most premium Total by Verizon plan, offered at $60, includes a Disney+ subscription, 5G Ultra Wideband access, unlimited talk, text and data, 20GB of hotspot data, and international talk and text to 69 countries.

In an “Up to Speed” video for V-teamers and “Trackies,” as they’re called at TracFone, Verizon showed off the first Total by Verizon store to launch in Passaic, N.J., featuring an appearance by Eduardo Diaz Corona, president of TracFone Wireless and Verizon SVP.

For the last 25 years, TracFone has served the under-served through a variety of brands in its portfolio and now with Verizon, they can “elevate the no-contract experience” through new channels to better serve the value-conscious consumer segment, he said. Verizon completed its $6 billion acquisition of TracFone last year.

Diaz Corona told CNET that the brand is designed to take on prepaid competitors Metro by T-Mobile and AT&T’s Cricket Wireless. He also told the publication that Total by Verizon would bring “more value to the table” and roll out exclusive stores to enhance the consumer experience.   

The company said Total by Verizon will be available at more than 50,000 retail locations, including Walmart, Target and Dollar General, exclusive retail stores, as well as online.

That’s an ambitious number of stores but not really a change in footprint, according to Wave7 Research principal Jeff Moore, who months ago had predicted the Total by Verizon brand.

Previously, the Total Wireless store concept essentially was “a supermarket,” he said. Consumers could go into a store and buy TracFone brands like Net 10, Simple Mobile, SafeLink and more.

Now, “Total by Verizon stores is not a supermarket. There’s one thing you can buy, which is Total by Verizon,” and that’s the same concept at other operator-owned prepaid stores, he said.

The thing to watch is how many physical stores Verizon launches of its own for Total by Verizon. In that sense, Verizon “definitely has its work cut out for it,” Moore said.

Wave7 keeps proprietary data on the number of stores operated by Metro by T-Mobile, Cricket Wireless and Boost Mobile brands; combined, these brands operate more than 16,000 of their own branded stores, “so that’s a lot to go up against,” Moore said.

Otherwise, nothing stands out as really disruptive in Verizon’s newest brand. “I think the plans are fairly pedestrian,” matching what AT&T Prepaid has been offering, Moore said.

“To me, the only thing that’s truly worth watching is the store rollout,” and how aggressive it’s going to be. “All indications we’ve seen is they plan to be pretty aggressive and I think they’re off to a good start,” he said. Judging by Verizon’s V-team video, the store in Passaic is pretty much how you’d expect it to look, he said. 

Theoretically, Total by Verizon could be sold in Verizon postpaid stores, but Verizon prepaid displays are rarely seen in the corporate stores, he said.  

It’s worth noting that Verizon launched Verizon prepaid service in stores in 2017 and that effort failed, he said. In addition, the Total by Verizon launch is “very different from Visible,” he said, which is a digital prepaid service through Verizon that recently acknowledged customer service problems.