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Summary:

Sprint today announced aggressively priced, prepaid plans for the Virgin Mobile USA brand it purchased last year. With more new prepaid customers than new postpaid customers in the last quarter of 2009, Sprint is trying to ensure that it reaps the benefit of the prepaid movement.

Sprint today announced cheaper prepaid plans through the Virgin Mobile USA brand it purchased last July for $483 million, a move aimed at attracting more of the growing number of wireless customers choosing such payment plans.

Three new “Beyond Talk” plans begin at $25 per month and all include unlimited messaging, data, email and web access. The base plan includes 300 voice minutes, while customers can move to a plan with 1,200 minutes for $40 per month or choose unlimited voice for a total of $60 per month. BlackBerry service is available for $10 extra per month to be used with the newly available BlackBerry Curve 8530, priced at $299.99.

Although it’s often difficult to compare handheld service plans due to variances in the features and voice limits, the new Beyond Talk plans compare favorably to most traditional postpaid contract plans offered by Sprint’s competitors — and even that of Sprint itself. Here’s a quick comparison of the new, $60 unlimited Beyond Talk prepaid plan to unlimited contract plans, with data plans based on non-smartphones:

Virgin Mobile USA Sprint AT&T Verizon Wireless T-Mobile
Unlimited voice, text, web $60 $99.99 $104.99 $99.99 $99.99
Plan name Beyond Talk Simply Everything National Plan Unlimited Talk Even More Talk

So why the aggressive push? Lately, growth in the U.S. cellular market is in prepaid, not postpaid, so Sprint is trying to grease the Virgin Mobile USA machine it spent nearly half a billion dollars to acquire. According to research from the New Millennium Research Council (NMRC), new prepaid wireless customers in the U.S. during the last quarter of 2009 outnumbered new contract customers for the first time ever — 65 percent of the 4.2 million new customers came from the prepaid market.

Related content on GigaOM Pro (subscription required):

Sprint’s Boost a Model for Prepaid Success

  1. Clarification on your chart here.

    Unlimited text, messaging and data on Verizon is $119.98.
    (Unlimited Talk & Text for 99.99 plus unlimited data for 29.99)

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  2. Hmmm…. I’m looking now at Verizon’s home page and see unlimited talk and text for $89.99. I added $9.99 for unlimited data (which is for messaging and 3G feature phones) to come up with the listed total. As stated in the article, I used “data plans based on non-smartphones.” I did that because Virgin Mobile USA isn’t geared towards smartphone users, although the new $10 monthly BlackBerry data deal is step in that direction. Thx!

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    1. “I added $9.99 for unlimited data (which is for messaging and 3G feature phones) to come up with the listed total. “

      That’s wrong. The $9.99 plan is for a 25 MB allowance. Justin is correct, the unlimited data plan is $29.99 regardless of phone type. Smartphones are required to get the $29.99 plan, while 3G feature phones have a choice between the 25 MB cap and the “unlimited” (really 5 GB) plan.

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  3. to really be big with prepaid sprint should loosen up the bring you own device(BYOD) policy of tits prepaid MVNO. what so many prepaid customer want to do is pay the full price for a new or used high end phone and than activate it on an attractive price plan. if you look at markets where metroPCS and cricket are big you will find that many users have phone they bought used that were originally with a different carrier that have been ‘flashed’ over to there correct network.

    for example i would love to grab a deal on a used motorola droid on ebay and than flash the PRL from verizon to sprint and be able to activate on boost or virgin mobile. this sort of thing is done all the time with cricket, metroPCS, pageplus, and a bunch of smaller verizon MVNO’s. sprint has never allowed it.

    at the very least if sprint does not want to allow modified devices than they should allow sprint branded phones on to be activated on virgin and boost.

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  4. [...] by the day. The brutal price war in prepaid continued this week when Sprint launched an effort to capture the bottom tier of the market with plans that include unlimited messaging, data, e-mail and web access for as little as $25 a [...]

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  5. [...] saw its prepaid net adds drop by 92 percent. More competitors are entering the prepaid market and prices are falling rapidly as those providers compete for marketshare. T-Mobile either has to cut costs to the bone so it can [...]

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  6. [...] Prepaid Phones Get Some Android Love By Stacey Higginbotham Jun. 3, 2010, 7:33am PDT No Comments        0 Boost Mobile today said it would offer the Motorola i1, the first Android phone for the prepaid market in the U.S., a move that makes prepaid plans more compelling from a device perspective. The prepaid phone market in the U.S. had a huge growth spurt during the recession thanks to better devices, better coverage because of roaming agreements and a price war that made the value hard to ignore. [...]

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