TracFone Acquires T-Mobile MVNO Simple Mobile

America Movil’s U.S. based MVNO, TracFone has announced the purchase of T-Mobile MVNO Simple Mobile for an undisclosed amount. TracFone is the nation’s largest MVNO with around 20.1 million subscribers, Simple Mobile counts 1 million subscribers. Simple Mobile uses T-Mobile’s 3G/4G network for their roughly 1 million customers and the reason for the purchase was partly due to T-Mobile’s future refarming efforts of the 1900MHz band.

“The acquisition will add important new distribution channels for América Móvil and is likely the first step in a broadening strategy,” wrote BTIG analyst Walter Piecyk, who estimated that T-Mobile owned 30 percent of Simple Mobile but will not move to block the transaction.

So what does this mean for you as a T-Mobile subscriber? Absolutely nothing other than the fact that T-Mobile’s network refarm is piquing a lot of interest. Simple Mobile now operates a “SIM-only” business, and doesn’t sell any phones only offering SIM cards to those who bring their own equipment. The T-Mobile myTouch is said to be one of the most popular devices on the Simple Mobile network.

This is just more industry consolidation and as TracFone grows, the more attention Prepaid plans will receive, an area T-Mobile already shows a lot of growth. It will be interesting to see how the Prepaid and Postpaid markets look 5 years from now.

Fierce Wireless

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  • quuuu

    well that freaking sucks ass, a shit company buys a pretty good company

    • http://twitter.com/phonecount StalkyTheFish

      My mom uses TracFone and their prices are terrible, IMO, and their plans are littered with expiration landmines. Their coupon books are worse than state income tax instructions!

      • JBrowne1012

        My first phone was a prepaid tracfone…. then i got tired of all the refilling and went to t-mobile and got on my families plan best decision since.

  • quuuu

    well that freaking sucks ass, a shit company buys a pretty good company

  • http://twitter.com/SParKlngCyaNide SparklingCyanide

    So as I understand even tho Tracfone would own Simple Mobile now, the service will still run over T-Mobile’s network?

    • zeth006

      No details given. I assume yes for now, and as more Simple Mobile phones become compatible with Tracfone’s networks (which include towers “rented” from AT&T), as long as T-Mobile rents their towers to them, Simple Mobile’s network may end up including both T-Mobile’s AT&T’s.

      That’s my guess.

    • Grammatica di Polizia

      That’s right. From what I read, TracFone (which is the “umbrella corporation” for all its prepaid companies in the U.S., including Net10 and Straight Talk) will NOT change anything about Simple Mobile, it is simply “buying the subscribers.”

      TracFone will continue to carry on business under the Simple Talk name, an established brand. (Note, IMO this is always a sound strategy. Often times when a consumer gets mad at Straight Talk, for example, they say “I am taking my business somewhere else, I am quitting Straight Talk and going to Simple Mobile. ” TracFone has the last laugh because they own both companies. :)

      None of this matters anyway because TracFone is an MVNO too, it does NOT have its own towers. TracFone Wireless uses the networks (aka spectrum or signal) of major U.S. cell phone network providers to carry their signal.

      For GSM handsets: AT&T/Cingular; T-Mobile.

      For CDMA phones: Verizon; Sprint.

      You can detect on SIM cards which GSM carrier the phone is using. On T-Mobile phones, on the SIM ID number will have a “SIMT5″ somewhere, for AT&T/Cingular “SIMC4″ will be included in the number string.

  • jessejames111981

    I’d prefer prepaid but I would like a prepaid provider with good LTE coverage and lets me buy an unlocked gsm-hspa / gsm-lte device. Tmobile monthly 4g seems like the closest option but as of nOw still lacks gsm standard 3g or lte.

    • Wex

      Its not LTE but does the GSM unlocked Galaxy Nexus (399 on Google Play) work well with Tmobile? Not sure if it gets the HSPA+42 or not

    • Wex

      Its not LTE but does the GSM unlocked Galaxy Nexus (399 on Google Play) work well with Tmobile? Not sure if it gets the HSPA+42 or not

      • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_CYQUMMC7Z4UBLSHQAJGNJBKVPM JamesS

        It works pretty well but the GNex is only a HSPA21 device and not a 42. So a lot will depend of if you’re even lucky enough to live in a 42 area. (I’m in KC which is only 21, so the GNex is perfectly paired for speed here.) The signal bars show a weaker signal than my N1 did but nothing feels lacking. (And obviously the GNex is faster on the network than the N1.)

      • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_CYQUMMC7Z4UBLSHQAJGNJBKVPM JamesS

        It works pretty well but the GNex is only a HSPA21 device and not a 42. So a lot will depend of if you’re even lucky enough to live in a 42 area. (I’m in KC which is only 21, so the GNex is perfectly paired for speed here.) The signal bars show a weaker signal than my N1 did but nothing feels lacking. (And obviously the GNex is faster on the network than the N1.)

      • Worldwide Traveler

        Yes it does I’ve had one for the last two months now, it runs up to 21mbps I think but it is really fast for me. If you’re thinking of getting one please do so.

    • 21stNow

      I don’t think that you are going to find LTE service on a prepaid carrier. AT&T restricts LTE service from their own GoPhone plans; I doubt that they would let one of their MVNOs provide it before they do. I think that VZW restricts LTE from their prepaid service, as well.

      Any AT&T MVNO (Straight Talk, H2O Wireless, Red Pocket, etc.) will allow you to get 3G service on the 850 or 1900 band.

    • 21stNow

      I don’t think that you are going to find LTE service on a prepaid carrier. AT&T restricts LTE service from their own GoPhone plans; I doubt that they would let one of their MVNOs provide it before they do. I think that VZW restricts LTE from their prepaid service, as well.

      Any AT&T MVNO (Straight Talk, H2O Wireless, Red Pocket, etc.) will allow you to get 3G service on the 850 or 1900 band.

    • niftydl

      Considering almost every single carrier has their own, isolated LTE frequency – I highly doubt we will ever see an unlocked international device that supports any LTE outside of the biggest carriers (AT&T only in the US). I can’t believe the U.S. wireless industry continues to be @$$ backwards about network compatibility even though they are finally starting to use the same technologies.

  • http://www.youtube.com/user/mrjlwilliams?feature=mhee mrjlwilliams (Click here)

    Those are horrible prices to include data, not enough.

    • The_Guest_Who

      That slide is ancient… the current $60 plan is unlimited talk/text, and “unlimited” 4G data up to 42.2 Mbps. Simple’s “unlimited” data is around the 2 GB mark, from the chatter in other forums (it’s not explicitly stated on SM’s plans page) ; so, it’s comparable to T-Mo’s own Monthly 4G. SM also offers some additional features over T-Mo, such as BIS for Blackberry included and free 411.

  • tmoEmployee

    Great news for tmobile employees more prepaid sales coming

  • haters on the rocks

    more money for tmobile to upgrade the network or buy more spectrum in long run lol. im hopping

    • JustSaying

      Where are you hopping to?

    • JustSaying

      Where are you hopping to?

      • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_CYQUMMC7Z4UBLSHQAJGNJBKVPM JamesS

        Down the bunny trail

      • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_CYQUMMC7Z4UBLSHQAJGNJBKVPM JamesS

        Down the bunny trail

  • Wex

    I looked into Simple Mobile but their customer service has been horrendous. Ive emailed their customer service – and even their press line – over 10 times and they still have never responded to any of them. If the above chart is right…Tmobile prepaid for $50 will give you 100 MB (not 50) for $50 and it will be 4G (at least Tmobiles version of it depending on the handset) and for $60, you’ll get up to 2Gb of 4G (not the 150MB of 3G) that the chart above shows

    • Khalints

      The chart above is terribly wrong, its probably from like 2008….plans are different now

      • http://tmonews.com David

        I changed the image.

      • http://tmonews.com David

        I changed the image.

  • Wex

    I looked into Simple Mobile but their customer service has been horrendous. Ive emailed their customer service – and even their press line – over 10 times and they still have never responded to any of them. If the above chart is right…Tmobile prepaid for $50 will give you 100 MB (not 50) for $50 and it will be 4G (at least Tmobiles version of it depending on the handset) and for $60, you’ll get up to 2Gb of 4G (not the 150MB of 3G) that the chart above shows

  • fixxmyhead

    what they used to offer was better. 60$ would get u unlimited talk and text and “unlimited”(2gb of 4g data) these new plans are terrible. so the new plan is 60$ for everything minus 1850MB of less data wtf doesnt make sense might as well pay an extra 10$ and get 5 gb on tmobile

    • Khalints

      Dude, David used an old ass picture for simplemobile, those prices are terribly wrong.

      • fixxmyhead

        oh ok cuz those plans were all wrong.

  • davedsone

    I believe the word is “piquing” not “peaking”. Yes, it makes a difference.

  • davedsone

    I believe the word is “piquing” not “peaking”. Yes, it makes a difference.

    • aa

      saved me the time typing the same thing :)

    • Grammatica di Polizia

      Ah… this again. I agree with you, it makes a difference and it is important to get this stuff right, especially since the Site is cited world-wide and in major publications.

      David made the “peaked” word-choice mistake late in 2010 or early 2011. And people in here noted his mistake back then. For those curious: “peaked” means to reach one’s limit or the highest point of performance. “Piqued” is a verb that means stimulate interest or curiosity. A hasty example (aka “poorly written”): “T-Mobile’s network refarms indicate TMOUS is financially peaking in the MVNO segment of the industry while other resellers are suffering a downturn. This latest refarm is also piquing interest from financial analysts to determine where prepaid is trending.”

      (I have noted that even “big shot” publications such as the NY Times, WSJ, and others make serious grammar and spelling errors, even in stories of international importance.)

      Solution: As I said back then, David (and everyone in here) should use a program called “Breevy.” One of its features is what I call “auto-correct.”. For example, David could make an entry that says whenever he types “peaked” to automatically change the word to “piqued.”

      I have over 10,000 entries in that program, about 2000 being my manually entered auto corrects. E.g. if I ever type “dick” to change the word to disk. If I accidentally type the word cun’t to change the word to “can’t.” And then there’s the common words we have difficuty with, is it “thier” or “their,” “receive” or “recieve,” “Wensday” or “Wednesday,” and the one that proves one is the ultimate mental slob, typing “wehlah,” “whalah,” or “waylah” instead of voilà.”

      Breevy has saved me from public scorn, ridicule and embarrassment simply from the “auto-correct” feature, at least from making errors like “download the file you found on the Internet on to your hard dick” when I meant to say “hard disk.” (A true story, something editor caught before my article went to the printer.)

      And from one word errors subjecting you to international ridicule, destruction of your reputation and maybe even causing your business to go bankrupt, Google: attorney
      “dick surgery” to see what I mean.

      • http://tmonews.com David

        One problem, it’s Windows only, I’m a Mac user :-)

        • Grammatica di Polizia

           Ah, yes. That should be a sign to move away from the dark side (aka Apple).

        • http://tmonews.com David

          Not going to happen, not on the desktop at least.

  • Khalints

    David could you have picked an older cover picture???

    It’s very misleading since simplemobile’s plans are extremely different now.

    • http://tmonews.com David

      Fine fine, I’ll change it…I was looking for a picture reflecting SimpleMobile period. I didn’t care what the plans were.

    • http://tmonews.com David

      Fine fine, I’ll change it…I was looking for a picture reflecting SimpleMobile period. I didn’t care what the plans were.

    • http://tmonews.com David

      Sure, I could pictured an older picture. I changed the image.

  • Khalints

    David could you have picked an older cover picture???

    It’s very misleading since simplemobile’s plans are extremely different now.

  • Guest

    That price guide is really outdated. Simple’s plans are much closer to T-Mobile’s current Monthly 4G offerings these days. Still prefer to get service directly from T-Mobile, though. It certainly won’t hurt them if people move from Simple to Monthly 4G as a result of this sale.

  • lettcco

    I am surprised no one here mentioned the name straight talk, another MVNO operated by tracfone.
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/TracFone_Wireless#Straight_Talk Their price is very competitive compare to simple mobile, and they let you choice your sim based on either Tmobile’s network or AT&T’s network. I am not sure I like the idea that now there is one less competition in the MVNO market, but let’s hope tracfone will use the newly acquired resources to make the pricing even more competitive, not the other way around.

  • jblow

    i left t-mobile for simple mobile($40 blackberry bis) for 2 months then went back to t-mobile on a monthly 4g plan($30 5gb 4g data,100 mins talk). on simple mobile, i could never get more than edge speeds and UMA didnt work on wifi. text msgs failed to send on the first attempt 80% of the time and customer service had a 30 minute hold time. “up to 3g speeds” is a deceitful way to say you only will get 2g edge.

  • frank909

    I am always pleased when Tracfone expands because they are the ones who are really working to bring down the pricing of cellphones. Anything that sticks it to AT@T and Verizon is good

  • Grammatica di Polizia

    People need to take note and watch TracFone. It is the umbrella company for Carlos Slim’s (world’s richest man) América Móvil ‘s (ad)venture into the U.S. wireless market, which is HUGE in terms of worldwide markets, opportunities, and profits.

    Deutsche Telekom knows this, as well as TMOUS company principals. (As I keep saying, prepaid is the way of the future.

    Sidenote: AT&T is the post-paid carrier to watch as its vicious money-grabbing tactics are put to an end with Carlos Slim getting into the act. For example, AT&T now has automatically-imposed overage charges on its 250 MB data plan. Good God Stephenson, get a grip man. Are you that bitter over last year. I guess so. What a greedy brat.

    Anyway, all totaled Mr. Slim will this year probably accrue 26-28 million++ U.S. prepaid customers. IMO buying Simple Mobile is an aggressive move by Carlos Slim to gobble up every MVNO prepaid carrier available in the U.S., to quickly add to those numbers. (Yeah, this is partially driven by ego.)

    This activity also evidences Deutsche Telekom’s motive to acquire MetroPCS’s 10 million subscribers (and entry into CDMA, which for now is something TMOUS needs to do since Verizon and Sprint are CDMA making aggressive expansion into prepaid. E.g., Sprint has been acquiring prepaid carriers, see Boost Mobile, Virgin Mobile U.S.A.)

    For now, the prepaid game is all about subscriber volume, which ultimately makes prepaid profitable. It is similar to McDonald’s Hamburgers, cheap food = less profits per customer. But sell 10 billion burgers, fries and drinks, well you know how successful that business model has been for McDonald’s.

    The net profits in prepaid can be huge since people are conditioned to expect less in terms of customer service, for example. And with “bring your own phone” programs, prepaid can cut back on brick and mortar lease obligations. Labor and leases are the highest costs in operating a business. If T-Mobile can reduce its U.S. employment force from 40,000 down to 5,000, that alone would generate huge profits in the prepaid segment.

    I suspect T-Mobile can hardly way to morph into the “premiere prepaid carrier in the U.S.” Who would not want to slash operating costs by 80%.

    (Disclaimer: I am not saying these are the numbers T-Mobile is working with, there’s just numbers for the sake of argument.)

    • bigdogg215

      Well explain

    • grumpyoldtimer

       mmm. Can I add to you digression: When last I checked (which was a fair amount of time ago), AT&T had close on 10% shares in America Movil AMX, so as much as you would like to believe it’s all Slim’s aggressive behavior, think twice. This inherently means that AT&T are also aggressively buying up the smaller prepaid providers. This is however not all gloom, as AT&T have steadily supplied Tracfone with loads (see Straight talk’s unlimited offering) of airtime in return for the boost in their ‘reseller’s column come every quarterly report. There is currently no evidence that Tracfone are going to become more expensive, as the unlimited plan’s prices haven’t changed. In fact the only thing that has chnaged, is their new policy of encouraging BYOD, especially if it’s a smart phone – that’s a better offering. Having said that tho…Tracfone have adopted a different way to controlling the bandwidth they use. Other carriers adopt caps, and throttling techniques. Tracfone pulls smart phone options off the shelves if they think they’re heading for trouble…or at least that’s what they used to do. One month they’ll be introducing a great phone, and two months down the line you won’t find it anywhere. But with BYOD, that’s not going to work. Which means they must have a lot of confidence in their main GSM supplier (BYOD’s relies on SIM cards – correct me if I’m wrong) – AT&T.
      I agree with your solutions to TMO’s woes. Prepaid is definitely the future (well in the US. Compared to the rest of the world we’re merely living in the past), and cutting down labor costs will definitely help the company. But how ironic, that one of the main anti AT&T – TMO merger lobbying points was that a merger would save jobs – HAH!!! how does one save jobs in a failing business?!
      As far as pizza metaphors go: why is Tracfone’s unlimited buffet style pizza still cheaper than any of the carriers they buy the airtime from? If your analysis is correct, then tracfone would be selling pizza at the same price as other more expensive pizzerias, but they don’t. Their ingredients are cheaper, the pizza is cheaper – nothing wrong with that.
      So the richest man in the world is partially ego driven….can I please have some anchovies with that pizza plus two extra toppings of ego.

  • bigdogg215

    Im using Straight Talk same as tracfone and it’s the best, I’ve great coverage and data download speed is great for only $45 unlimited everything you can’t beat that. oha and im using a Iphone 4s too with every feature working including 3G speed

    • Aboxer3

      do you get MMS ?

      • bigdogg215

        Yes everything works n the service is really good I recommend it I left tmobile for straight talk n on the $45 bucks plan u get unlimited international txt… I was hesitant at first but made a good choice by switching

        • Lakesha1999

          can you talk and surf the web at the same time?

  • Jeffery Poe

    As an American living in England I feel sorry for you guys, Pay as you go plans over here are cheap and amazing! Plus phones come unlocked, don’t like you provider, ditch your sim and get a new one. Mobile companies provide them for free.

  • Ryanparr1234

    i got tracfone straighttalk and it is non sim based it uses verizon towers i pay 30 dollar a month