TracFone Wireless, Inc. (TFWI) is an American prepaid, no-contract mobile phone provider. TFWI is a subsidiary of Mexico's largest telecommunications company, América Móvil, and offers products and services under several brands. It operates as a mobile virtual network operator (MVNO), holding agreements with the United States' largest wireless network operators to provide service, including Verizon Wireless, AT&T Mobility, T-Mobile US, Sprint Corporation, and  TracFone Wireless had 25.668 million subscribers in 2015.
|Predecessor||Topp Telecom, Inc.|
|Founded||Miami, Florida, United States (1996)|
Number of locations
|90,000 retail locations|
|United States (incl. Hawaii, Alaska, and Puerto Rico)|
|Services||Prepaid mobile virtual network operator|
Number of employees
|Parent||América Móvil (100%)|
|Footnotes / references|
- 1 History
- 2 TracFone
- 3 Other brands
- 4 All brands
- 5 Class actions
- 6 Networks and coverage
- 7 See also
- 8 References
- 9 External links
TracFone Wireless, Inc. (TFWI) was established in 1996 as Topp Telecom Inc., a prepaid mobile phone company, in Miami, Florida. In February 1999, Topp received a major infusion of capital from Teléfonos de México (NYSE: TMX), a.k.a. TelMex, Mexico's largest telephone company. TelMex paid $57.5 million for a 55 percent controlling interest in the company.
In 2012, América Móvil acquired rival network Simple Mobile.
In 2013, TFWI unveiled a tweaked logo. Later that year, TFWI also introduced four Android phones, all CDMA.
In May 2013, América Móvil purchased Page Plus Cellular, which had 1.4 million subscribers. On January 6, 2014, regulatory approval was received and Page Plus Cellular began operating as a subsidiary of América Móvil.
Originally, TracFone service was limited to TracFone-branded phones, which are locked to the TracFone service using an internal SIM card. Other GSM phones, even those that were unlocked from another carrier, could not accept a TracFone SIM card, because these are bound to a specific handset. However, in 2013, TracFone unveiled Bring Your Own Phone, and began selling SIM cards that could be inserted into qualifying non-TracFone phones (such as Verizon CDMA phones) to register them with TracFone. In 2015, this program was extended to compatible unlocked GSM phones and renamed "Bring Your Own Device",.
Basic Phone Plans
- Non-Android phones have a usage account denominated in units. Each minute of a phone call (initiated or received) is 1.0 unit. Sending or receiving a text is charged as some fraction of a minute (typically 0.3, but 0.5 on some models). A minute of Web access is 0.5 unit. Earlier TracFone models charged double (2.0 units per minute) for roaming outside the user's home phone area, but all current phones operate independent of location in the United States.
- Android phones have separate accounts for phone minutes, texts, and megabytes of data exchanged. Thus, a service card for 60 minutes adds 60 phone minutes, 60 texts, and 60 megabytes.
- On specific phones with the "triple minutes for life" feature, the same 60-minute card instead adds 180 minutes, 180 texts, and 180 megabytes. The days of service stated on the card do not triple. Newer phones do not feature "triple minutes for life", but TracFone honors the promise on any phone for which it was given. Newer cards, providing only minutes, only texts, or only megabytes without augmenting other aspects of the service, do not triple on any phone.
- Since 2015, Tracfone has offered a variety of smartphone plans, which offer various talk, text and data allotments. Current plans start at $15 for 500 minutes, 500 texts and 500 MB of data.
TracFone occasionally discloses promo codes that will provide additional service units if the customer enters the code when redeeming a service card.
Calling outside the U.S.Edit
TracFone provides several options to let customers communicate outside the United States:
- Any customer can call a designated toll-free number and follow recorded instructions to initiate calls to over fifty countries. In some of these countries, cellphones cannot be reached.
- By providing the phone number and serial number at TracFone.com, a customer can associate up to ten toll-free numbers with designated phone numbers outside the United States. When the customer dials the toll-free number, TracFone identifies the customer's phone and places the call to the associated number.
- By providing the phone number and serial number at TracFone.com, a customer can obtain up to three local telephone numbers in any of several Mexican cities. Calls to these numbers are forwarded to the TracFone customer in the United States.
- Tracfone also offers a $10 Global card, which allows customers to call mobile and landline number anywhere in the world, including countries that are not included in the Basic International Long Distance offer. The balance on the card expires in 180 days of last use or 30 days after inactive service.
The only charge to the Tracfone customer for these services is the deduction of actual connect time from the prepaid minutes on the customer's phone. There is no roaming program by which a TracFone phone can be used outside the United States.
In addition to its namesake product, TracFone Wireless offers products under the brands Clearway, GoSmart Mobile, NET10 Wireless, Page Plus Cellular, Safelink Wireless, SIMPLE Mobile, Straight Talk, Telcel América, Total Wireless, and Walmart Family Mobile. These brands differ not only in their logos and prepaid minute rates, but also in their service offerings.
Clearway describes itself as "Wireless for Business" and "Big Business Coverage for Small Business Prices". It sells phones; offers BYOD for phones, tablets, and hotspots; and has various no-contract 30-day plans offering unlimited talk and text, plus up to 20 GB of high-speed data, followed by 2G speeds. Clearway offers CDMA coverage on the Verizon network, and GSM coverage on the AT&T network.
GoSmart Mobile was previously a T-Mobile US subsidiary that launched in beta on December 7, 2012, and became officially available nationwide on February 19, 2013. TracFone Wireless acquired GoSmart along with Walmart Family Mobile from T-Mobile US in September 2016.
GoSmart offers five no-contract phone plans, starting at $15 going up to $55 per month. GoSmart does not sell any devices directly, but customers can purchase a SIM card to bring their own phone to the provider. Customers can purchase the plans and SIM cards either online at GoSmartMobile.com or in-store at one of their authorized retailers.
Net10 Wireless supports both GSM and CDMA phones which support voicemail and text messaging at a minimum. Depending on the device, some models also offer Bluetooth, camera, hands-free speaker, qwerty keyboard, and wireless web.
Net10 offers a variety of plans, which can be purchased either from their website or from designated retailers. Minutes from one month carry over to the next, as long as service remains active. Net10 Wireless offers a variety of service plans, ranging from $20–65, with as little as 1 GB of data up to 12 GB. Additional data can be purchased throughout the month if the allotted GB are used up. For non-data users, unbundled plans with only text and talk minutes can also be purchased.
SafeLink Wireless is a Lifeline supported service, operated by TracFone's Net10 Wireless subsidiary. Lifeline is a government benefit program which subsidizes discounted or free phone service, only offered to eligible low-income or disabled consumers. The service is non-transferrable, and limited to one mobile or landline Lifeline phone line per household. Lifeline is funded through the Universal Service Fund.
Customers can apply for service using the SafeLink web page, by fax, or by mail. Eligible participants receive at least 1,000 domestic talk minutes, unlimited text messages, and a fixed amount of data each month; details vary by state. Service units might carry over to the next month, depending on the plan used. If the customer exceeds the allocation, there is no service until the start of the next month unless the customer buys more units. The customer can use TracFone airtime cards, including promotions for free bonus minutes.
In California, SafeLink customers receive unlimited domestic talk and text, plus 3 GB of data per month (which do not roll-over to the next month if unused), but can purchase an extended data package.
Page Plus CellularEdit
Page Plus Cellular is a prepaid Verizon Wireless mobile virtual network operator in the United States operated by TracFone Wireless, Inc., subsidiary of the Mexican telecommunications firm América Móvil.
Page Plus Cellular was established in 1993 by Abdul Yassine as Page Plus Communications, selling pager services in the Toledo, Ohio area. In August 1998, the company was renamed Page Plus Cellular and launched services in Ohio and Michigan, followed by a nationwide launch in 2000. Page Plus was originally headquartered in Holland, Ohio, followed by Medley, Florida.
In May 2013, Mexican telecommunications company América Móvil purchased Page Plus Cellular for an undisclosed amount. As of January 6, 2014, regulatory approval was received and Page Plus Cellular has joined other América Móvil subsidiaries like Tracfone Wireless, Inc. At the time of sale, Page Plus Cellular had 1.4 million subscribers.
Page Plus Cellular, under the new ownership, is also a Better Business Bureau Accredited business. As of January 2014, the Better Business Bureau had given it a rating of A+ with 151 complaints closed in the previous 3 years.Since July 7, 2014, with 87 complaints filed with the Better Business Bureau in the past 3 years, with 50 of those being the past year, as of February 10, 2015.
Page Plus Cellular offers both pay-as-you-go and no-contract monthly plans. Both monthly and pay-as-you-go customers add voice minutes, data and text messages to their account by purchasing refill cards. Prices for no-contract phone plans with Page Plus Cellular range from $12 to $55, and pay-as-you-go start at $10 and go up to $80. Customers can choose whether they would like to bring their own phone, or purchase one of the smartphone options on Page Plus’ website. The carrier offers a variety of Samsung, Apple and Android devices.Page Plus Cellular sources its services to dealers who work as independent contractors under its own company name. Such sellers are known as authorized dealers with physical and/or online stores. Dealers can be located on their website.
Simple Mobile (stylized SIMPLE Mobile) is a prepaid mobile network operator founded in November 2009, headquartered in Miami, Florida, in the United States and functions as an mobile virtual network operator of T-Mobile US. On May 10, 2012, Mexican telecommunications company America Movil said that its U.S. unit TracFone Wireless has agreed to acquire Simple Mobile Inc. América Móvil, TFWI's parent company, acquired Simple Mobile in June 2012 and has incorporated the brand into operations alongside TFWI’s other subsidiary brands.
On January 31, 2011, Simple Mobile celebrated their one millionth activation. Simple Mobile has activated more than 2.5 million subscribers since they opened in November 2009.
They provide wireless voice, messaging and data services in the United States as a T-Mobile US MVNO. The initial plans offered prepaid month-to-month wireless services including unlimited texting, voice, and capped data. In June 2010 the company began to advertise unlimited data on their prepaid monthly plans. On February 16, 2011 SIMPLE Mobile celebrated their one millionth activation.
Simple Mobile offers no-contract, 30-day plans including unlimited talk and text and various amounts of high-speed data.
The company features 4G LTE plans using T-Mobile's LTE network bands. SIMPLE Mobile also offers international calling plans, wireless broadband, and service plans specifically for Blackberry devices. The company has a Bring Your Own Phone model in which customers combine a SIMPLE Mobile SIM card and service plan with the user's own unlocked or T-Mobile GSM device. All of the unlimited plans feature unlimited international text messaging at no additional cost to the subscriber.
SIMPLE Mobile SIM cards and service plans are sold through their website, TracFone Wireless Retailers, Best Buy and via local dealers. As with America Móvil's other brands (TracFone and Net10 Wireless), Simple Mobile offers a broad range of phones depending on budget, ranging from free, low-end Huawei phones to premium iPhone and Samsung Galaxy models (one to two generations behind the current models) that can be purchased on an installment plan. With the exception of iPhones, all of Simple Mobile's phones run the Android operating system. In contrast to Net10 and Tracfone, Simple Mobile offers service only through T-Mobile's network and thus its phones will not work in areas where T-Mobile does not offer service; Simple Mobile does not ship phones to these areas.
Straight Talk is a Mobile Virtual Network Operator (MVNO) offering both CDMA and GSM support. The CDMA service uses Verizon's or Sprint's CDMA 1xRTT wireless networks and the GSM service makes use of either T-Mobile's or AT&T's GSM networks.
Straight Talk has a joint-venture agreement with Walmart that makes Walmart its exclusive retailer, though customers can buy phones and service directly from Straight Talk via its website or by telephone.
Straight Talk offers several different rate plans. Depending on price, these deliver limited or unlimited service over a 30-day period. Monthly prices are reduced when plans are activated with Auto-Refill, which automatically activates the same service plan once the 30-day period is complete. High-speed data is unlimited on the $55 Ultimate Unlimited Plan, and it is limited on the $45, $35, $30 and $10 plans, with speeds lowering to 2G after stated data allotments.
Service plans do not include hotspot tethering. Video streams at up to 480p. Straight Talk customers' speeds are prioritized behind customers on the network they are using during times of congestion.
Telcel América is a wireless service from TracFone Wireless, Inc. (TFWI) that allows its users to call internationally as a built-in part of the service plans. Telcel América offers a variety of monthly plans, including unlimited nationwide-minutes, unlimited SMS/MMS messaging, and unlimited data. Plans start at $20 and can cost up to $60. Telcel América also offers an international calling plan for call to "over 1,000 destinations". Some plans offer roaming in Mexico at no extra charge.
Telcel América's current GSM phones are compatible with Mexico's Telcel wireless network and services. Telcel America also permits customers that have an unlocked GSM or compatible T-Mobile phone to use the Telcel América Network. Telcel América is a brand of TracFone Inc. in the United States, while Telcel in Mexico is a fully owned subsidiary of TFWI's parent company, América Móvil.
Total Wireless offers a variety of Smartphones which can operate on Verizon's 4G LTE network. Devices and service plans can be purchased via the Total Wireless website, Walmart website, as well as in-store at Walmart, Target and Dollar General. These phones use CDMA for voice, not Verizon's VoLTE; they use LTE only for data exchange.
Service plans include single line options or multi-line family plans, with prices ranging from $25 up to $100. All plans include unlimited talk minutes and texting; and a variety of data options to choose from.
Walmart Family MobileEdit
Walmart Family Mobile offers no-contract prepaid plans. Family Mobile, along with GoSmart, were purchased by TracFone from T-Mobile in September 2016.
The company offers a range of family-friendly phone plans exclusively through Walmart, ranging in price from $25 to $50 for single line plans. Service plans can also be bundled together for families needing more than one line. Customers can decide if they would like to bring their own phone or purchase a new one through Walmart Family Mobile. Apple, Samsung and Android devices are all available for purchase through the company either online or in-stores.
TracFone Wireless, Inc. (TFWI) brands sells phones by many manufacturers. Each phone contains a SIM card applicable to that brand. TFWI brands sell phones for several networks; models using the Verizon or Sprint CDMA network have the letter C in the model name, while phones using the AT&T or T-Mobile GSM network have the letter G. The choice of phone thus determines the network used and the quality of service in specific locations. A typical retail display includes a coverage map (or several, one for each relevant network), indicating the parts of the U.S. where the phone can be used.
The customer must buy service through the chosen TFWI brand. Service cards are available at many retail locations. A typical service card carries a specified number of service days and usage units (such as minutes). Each service card contains an "Airtime PIN" or “Service PIN” beneath a silvery coating that the customer scratches off. At some stores, there is no service card; instead, the PIN is printed on the sales receipt. The customer can use a brand website, use TFWI customer service, or send a text, to redeem the card. Redemption loads the phone with the purchased resources and prevents the PIN from being reused. Service cards have a bar code that is scanned on purchase, so that PINs from stolen service cards never become valid.
Having bought a phone, the customer must register it with their chosen TFWI brand. This process assigns a phone number to the phone and loads the phone with service days and usage units from the initial service card. The assigned phone number has an area code and exchange based on a ZIP code that the customer specifies. This choice of a geographic location does not affect service or cost, but it lets customers of landlines in that vicinity reach the TracFone as a local call.
The customer can transfer an account to another TFWI brand, which activates service under the same phone number and closes the account with the previous provider.
Misleading "unlimited" plan claims by Straight Talk, Net10 Wireless, Simple Mobile, and Telcel America – 2015Edit
Roaming and repair issues – 2007Edit
On February 9, 2007, a preliminary settlement in a class-action lawsuit against TracFone was carried out by Jeanette Wagner, and approved in the Boone County Circuit Court in Kentucky. The complainants alleged that TracFone misled consumers by charging a roaming rate in their home calling area (they were charged for 2 units per minute, not the usual 1 unit per minute), and that it refused to extend their prepaid service time during handset repairs. As a result of the settlement, Tracfone gave each of their customers an extra 20 units of airtime.
Networks and coverageEdit
TracFone Wireless uses the networks of major wireless providers to offer service, the coverage of which varies by the provider for each device. Retail boxes indicate the network with a code printed in the lower right corner on the back of the box.
|Network||Box code||Technology||LTE since|
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