Is the Pay-as-you-go Cellular Future Already Here?

October 14, 2010

In the course of our discussion yesterday that was part of her column on new cellular pre-paid plans, financial wiz Jean Chatzky asked me a great question: Why would anyone need a 2-year contract plan anymore? As her post (and stories like the one I recently wrote for PC World) points out, with better phones entering the pre-paid arena, the allure of the “discounted” phone that you get with most 2-year contract plans may be rapidly fading.

Though big carriers like AT&T and Verizon love the postpaid plans (because they lock customers in to a predictable revenue stream) you may see the larger providers offer even more flexible pricing plans in the near future, especially as they roll out their newer, faster “4G” networks. While the big boys may not be able to match their upstart competitors on price, at least customers will have more chances to switch between providers when not locked in to a long-term deal. For most everyone who can survive without an iPhone, that’s good news.

Next week at 4G World in Chicago we are scheduled to meet with both Clearwire and MetroPCS, both of which have pre-paid plans already using their respective 4G networks. It will be interesting to hear from the companies how the 4G prepaid plans are doing so far, and if there are more in the works for the near future.

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Clearwire CEO Bill Morrow on WiMAX vs. LTE

September 21, 2009

Why speculate? Listen to Clearwire CEO Bill Morrow as he explains how Clearwire is solidly set on using WiMAX right now — and might use LTE in the future, a few years down the road, if it becomes popular:

The Sidecut Interview: Clearwire CEO Bill Morrow

September 20, 2009

Editor’s note: Here is an edited transcript of an exclusive Q&A with Clearwire CEO Bill Morrow that Sidecut Reports conducted just after Morrow’s keynote speech at 4G World in Chicago Sept. 16. Much more from Clearwire and 4G World as the week unfolds!

Sidecut Reports: Does Wall Street understand what Clearwire is doing? The unclear stories this week from New York about the idea that you might “drop” WiMAX in favor of LTE makes it seem like there is still some confusion on their end.

Clearwire CEO Bill Morrow: I think they understand. When I came in here [as CEO] six months ago there seemed to be a question about what would happen if they [large investors] invested in Clearwire and WiMAX, and it didn’t succeed. Now, with more markets launched, they’re getting some good insights and are diving further in, and seeing things like the fact that our costs [of deployment] are lower.

Sidecut Reports: Talk about your pricing and strategic message — is it now centered around mobility, around value, or around speed?

Morrow: I think you have to have all of the above. You have to get value to the point where it raises the eyebrows of people. We want to have the simplest pricing, the best pricing. Over time you include value-added services, so the value of the entire proposition increases.

Sidecut Reports:
But how do you get that message out?

Morrow: Part of it is by making sure you build the right reputation and brand image. Mike Seivert, our chief commercial officer, is in lockstep with me on this — we want to create a very different fundamental experience for the customer. Even the simple act of getting a bill — I was at [California energy utility] PG&E, and I know from having bills that were too complex or hard to figure out, the customer would almost say “I don’t trust you!”

What I really want to see is us get the word out, to get customers on the network and then have them talk about it to other customers. The message carries so much further when it’s in the customer’s own voice.

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