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Verizon Buying Prepaid Mobile Provider Tracfone in $6.25 Billion Deal

Phillip Dampier September 14, 2020 Competition, Consumer News, Reuters, TracFone, Verizon 2 Comments

(Reuters) – Verizon Communications said on Monday it will buy pre-paid mobile phones provider Tracfone, a unit of Mexican telecoms giant America Movil in a $6.25 billion cash and stock deal.

Tracfone, which serves about 21 million subscribers through more than 90,000 retail locations across the United States, said more than 13 million of its subscribers rely on Verizon’s network under an existing agreement. Verizon is the largest U.S. wireless carrier by subscribers.

The U.S. wireless industry is concentrated in the hands of three mobile carriers due to several mergers in recent years: T-Mobile, which in April completed its $23 billion merger with Sprint to solidify its position in the United States; AT&T, and Verizon.

America Movil, which was created from a state monopoly, is Mexico’s largest telecoms operator by far and is controlled by the family of Mexican billionaire Carlos Slim, the Latin American nation’s richest man.

Verizon has not historically invested in prepaid compared with its rivals, such as T-Mobile, which revamped its MetroPCS prepaid brand and bought Sprint, which had a large prepaid business.

Verizon’s purchase of Tracfone comes at a time when the pandemic has ravaged the economy and Americans are cutting back on spending.

Tracfone had become popular with the lower end of the ultra-competitive U.S. telecoms consumer market and Verizon plans to provide new products for that segment after this “strategic acquisition,” said Hans Vestberg, chairman and chief executive of Verizon.

“This transaction firmly establishes Verizon, through the Tracfone brands, as the provider of choice in the value segment, which complements our clear leadership in the premium segment,” added Ronan Dunne, executive vice president and group CEO, Verizon Consumer Group.

Shares of Verizon were up more than 1% in morning trading. American Movil shares jumped more than 3.5% when the Mexican market opened.

The deal includes $3.125 billion in cash and $3.125 billion in Verizon stock.

Credit Suisse is acting as financial adviser to Verizon on the deal, which is expected to close in the second half of 2021.

Reporting by Ayanti Bera in Bengaluru and Drazen Jorgic in Mexico City; Additional reporting by Sheila Dang; Editing by Vinay Dwivedi, Will Dunham and Dan Grebler

TracFone’s NET10 Brings Back Unlimited Data on AT&T’s 3G Network

net10 TracFone customers signed up for NET10 Wireless prepaid service are getting word in e-mail the 1.5GB monthly data cap on AT&T-based SIM cards introduced in March has been removed and unlimited data has returned.

AT&T resells prepaid access to its 3G GSM network on gradually improving terms as AT&T’s postpaid, on-contract customers continue to abandon 3G in favor of AT&T’s 4G services. As 3G traffic loads diminish, AT&T is seeking to maximize return on its older network. Bringing back unlimited data service is expected to prove an attractive offering in the budget-minded prepaid marketplace.

TracFone acts as a reseller of all four major carriers’ networks under different brands. Geography and the specific phone model chosen usually determines on which network the service will operate. Only customers with AT&T SIM cards in their phones (the first line of the SIM card ID number will end in “SIMC4”) qualify for the unlimited data offer, although tethering is prohibited, according to an e-mail being sent to registered customers.

Net10-Unlimited-Data-confirmation

TracFone enacted a 1.5GB monthly usage cap for NET10 Wireless users back in March. But the cap never applied to TracFone’s Straight Talk customers. Straight Talk still offers unlimited data, but says streaming is not permitted.

Along with the return of unlimited data, TracFone has discontinued its NET10 Wireless usage measurement portal, which informed customers about their monthly data usage.

TracFone operates several prepaid calling plans under the brands TracFone, NET10 Wireless, Safelink Wireless, Straight Talk, Telcel América, and SIMPLE Mobile. TracFone is owned and operated by Mexico-based América Móvil.

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