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August 23, 2006

Virgin Mobile is tops among prepaid

Posted by Tricia Duryee at 10:58 AM

The mobile phone industry has been curious to see how all of the new operators are fairing in the market, and a new survey released today sheds some ligh.

Of course, I'm talking about MVNOs, or mobile virtual network operators, which are providers that lease airtime from carriers. They then resell the minutes to consumers under their own brands. Examples are Virgin Mobile, Boost Mobile and TracFone.

J.D. Power's 2006 Wireless Prepaid Customer Satisfaction Study, released today, found customers of MVNOs are more satisfied when it comes to account management and cost of service.

On the other hand, carriers that own and operate their own networks and have prepaid services generate higher satisfaction ratings in company image, including reputation, technical innovation and solving call quality issues.

Virgin Mobile ranks highest in overall customer satisfaction among current wireless prepaid customers, especially on the basis of account management issues such as initial account activation and customer service. Verizon Wireless follows Virgin in the rankings and performs well in call quality and company image factors. Other prepaid carriers that score at or above the industry average are T-Mobile USA, Boost Mobile and TracFone.

There's no mention of some other MVNOs in the industry, such as Amp'd Mobile, Disney or ESPN. Perhaps that's because they aren't exclusively prepaid providers.

The study also highlighted some differences between prepaid and postpaid customers:

-- Prepaid users spend an average of $37 when purchasing airtime, whereas a post-paid customer's monthly average is $65.

-- Prepaid users report using 208 minutes a month, or less than one-half as much as post-paid users, who average 501 minutes.

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Tricia Duryee
Tricia Duryee
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