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FierceWireless.com: “Surpassing Verizon, TracFone notches 1.1M net adds in Q4”

February 10, 2011

This story really demonstrates the power of the shift from contract to prepaid.  TracFone’s fones are really weak, and yet they’re still grabbing tremendous market share.  Even the two smartphones they introduced in Aug. 2010 are old and decrepit.  LightYear’s unlimited everything $59.99/month service blows away anything comparable from TracFone.  What does that mean?  We just have to get the word out about LightYear.

In the second-to-last paragraph, note the humongous 219% one-year jump in minutes of use:  this is another monster trend of people living on their fones.

Red highlights and [bracketed comments] are mine.
JC

http://www.fiercewireless.com/story/surpassing-verizon-tracfone-notches-11m-net-adds-q4/2011-02-09

Surpassing Verizon, TracFone notches 1.1M net adds in Q4
February 9, 2011 — 6:03pm ET | By Mike Dano

América Móvil’s TracFone MVNO service netted a whopping 1.1 million new subscribers in the fourth quarter of 2010, finishing the period with a total of 17.7 million subscribers.

TracFone’s net adds put it in the same league as some of the nation’s Tier 1 wireless carriers. For example, Verizon Wireless (NYSE:VZ), the nation’s largest wireless carrier, recorded 955,000 total net customer additions in the fourth quarter, ending the period with 102.2 million “total wireless connections.”

Such a comparison isn’t completely fair, however. TracFone doesn’t operate its own wireless network–instead, as an MVNO, the company essentially piggybacks on the networks of Verizon , AT&T Mobility (NYSE:T) and T-Mobile USA, reselling their services under TracFone’s brands, which include Straight Talk, Net10 and others. Thus, TracFone’s net customer additions are also counted by its host carriers under their “wholesale” column.

Nonetheless, TracFone’s stellar growth is notable. The company has grown its U.S. subscriber base from 14.4 million in December of 2009 to 16.7 million in September 2010 to 17.7 million at the end of the fourth quarter of last year.  [That’s 23% growth year over year, if you didn’t have your calculator handy.]

As for TracFone’s subscriber metrics, the company’s minutes of use skyrocketed 219 percent year over year, from 94 in the fourth quarter of 2009 to 300 in the fourth quarter of 2010. TracFone attributed the growth to its Straight Talk unlimited service. TracFone’s average revenue per user grew from $10 to $14 during the same period while its churn remained relatively unchanged at around 4 percent.

Though América Móvil made no mention of it in its earnings announcement, TracFone also is looking toward the smartphone future. The company recently began selling two Nokia (NYSE:NOK) smartphones, the 6790 and the E71.

For more:
– see this release (PDF)

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