I have recently become aware of some potential developments that might affect TracFone’s BYOP program, or even the phones offered directly by the company. At this point, it seems very speculative, but if it turns out to be true it would mark a huge change for TracFone users, so I have decided to throw in my two cents here.

The story is that TracFone customers might - MIGHT - get access to LTE sometime soon. There are some signs that Verizon, who is currently the only provider of smart phone service for the TracFone brand, appears to be preparing to open its 4G spectrum to Prepaid MVNO’s such as TracFone. Here is the info:

http://www.fiercewireless.com/story/rumor-mill-verizon-wireless-mvnos-get-lte-q3/2014-08-20

The story states that this “could” happen in the third quarter of this year, meaning possibly as soon as the next 6 weeks. All of this is according to unnamed sources. Previously, and to this day, Verizon has limited all prepaids on its network to 3G or lower speeds. Apparently Verizon felt that opening up the higher speeds to prepaid customers would leech higher-paying subscribers.

However, aside from this article there have been other recent signs that this is changing, including rumors that Page Plus Cellular, another Verizon-based MVNO, will no longer accept “Flashed” 3G phones in anticipation of rule changes from Verizon. Further, some of the first Android devices available for TracFone are now being sold at very low prices, possibly indicating that TracFone is clearing out its stock to make room for newer models.

Still, this is very uncertain in my opinion. It’s important to keep in mind, also, that different prepaid companies can have different contracts with Verizon. A perfect example of this is that Page Plus uses Verizon’s network and has, for years, allowed customers to bring their own phone to the service – something that is still a new development for TracFone. Further, Page Plus has allowed “flashed” phones onto its service, while TracFone still does not permit this practice – and probably never will. Therefore, it is certainly conceivable that Verizon will open up its 4G network for third-party prepaid companies, but for one reason or another TracFone won’t join the party.

How does this affect you right now? In my opinion, that depends greatly on what kind of consumer you are. Are you the type of person who, if you bought a phone now and this change happened 2 months out, would greatly regret jumping the gun? Then you will likely want to wait at least a little while longer if you are on the verge of upgrading to a TracFone smart phone.

At the same time, that kind of waiting game is possible with just about any technology purchase. The HDTV you are looking now will always be cheaper 3 months from now, or your money will get you a nicer TV if you hold out. But in the mean time you are left waiting for new technology – and when you finally do pull the trigger, you’ll still be in the same position of missing out on the next newest thing just a few months later.

Like I said, there is a lot of speculation here, but I have the feeling this could be a big development so I wanted to keep you informed of what I know. I would love to hear your opinion – do you think TracFone will jump in right away with this change? Or should we proceed with business as usual, and not expect any major developments in the near future? Please leave a comment and let me know what you think.

 

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