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TracFone Company, Inc.
Type Subsidiary of América Móvil
(NYSEAMX, BMV: AMX NASDAQAMOV)
Founded 1996
Headquarters United StatesMiami, Florida, USA
Key people Fredrick J. Pollak (President and CEO)
Industry Prepaid Cellphone Services
Revenue $1.480 billion USD (Jan-Dec 2008)[1]
Net income $269 million USD (Jan-Dec 2008)[1]
Employees 400+ (2008)
Parent América Móvil (98.2%)
Others (1.8%)
Website www.TracFone.com www.NET10.com www.SafeLinkWireless.com www.StraightTalk.com/

For the TracFone by KVH Industries, see that company's article.

TracFone Wireless or TracFone is a prepaid mobile phone provider. A subsidiary of América Móvil, it provides service in the United States, Puerto Rico and the United States Virgin Islands.

TracFone was Accredited by the Better Business Bureau on June 30, 2003 and had an A+ Rating as of July 30, 2009.[2]

Contents

History

TracFone was established in 1996 as Topp Telecom Inc., a prepaid cell phone company, in Miami, Florida. In February 1999, Topp received a major infusion of capital from Teléfonos de México or Telmex (NYSETMX), Mexico's largest telephone company. TelMex paid $57.5 million for a 55 percent controlling interest in the company.

In 2000, Telmex spun off their mobile unit, creating América Móvil, of which Topp Telecom became a subsidiary. In November 2000, Topp Telecom Inc. changed its name to TracFone Wireless Inc.[3]

Service

TracFone provides four brands of service: TracFone, NET10, Safelink Wireless, and Straight Talk. These brands differ not only in their logos and prepaid minute rates but their underlying networks:

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TracFone

TracFone service is limited to TracFone-branded handsets (all TracFone handsets are pre-programmed by the manufacturer; therefore, the handset is locked including its latest GSM models). Other GSM handsets will not accept TracFone SIM cards, even if unlocked. Additionally, on most handsets, some features like USB and Bluetooth have been crippled by the manufacturer to prevent direct transfer of user files. Photos can be downloaded from and uploaded to phones via MMS only, and custom ringtones must be purchased from TracFone.

The TracFone-branded service allows a customer to buy airtime units to use on selected digital phones by Kyocera, LG, Motorola, Nokia, and Samsung. Which handset the user purchases determines what type of network the service uses.

NET10

Net10 logo.jpg

NET10 is a related offering, using both CDMA and GSM phones from Kyocera, LG, Motorola, Nokia, and Samsung, all of which support voicemail and text messaging at a minimum. Some models also offer Bluetooth, camera, handsfree speaker, QWERTY keyboard, and wireless web.[4] The "10" in NET10 signifies that each voice minute costs ten cents (five cents for text messages), with no additional fees.

NET10's slogan is "No Bills, No Contracts, No Evil." Both airtime cards and auto-pay plans called "Easy Minutes" are available. Time can be added using the phone itself ("Rapid Refill"), or at the company's website. Minutes from one month carry over to the next, as long as service remains active. NET10 offers business plans and international calling, and number portability is advertised on their site as being available.

SafeLink

SafeLink Wireless provides a free cell phone and a limited number of voice minutes each month for low-income-eligible families (one per family) who do not use Lifeline services offered by any other phone or wireless company. It is funded through the Universal Service Fund that almost every US taxpayer contributes to via their existing land-line and wireless service provider, but is only operational in a limited number of states.[5][6] It is similar to the Lifeline and LinkUp government subsidized service for home telephones.[7]

Straight Talk

Straight Talk is one of TracFone's newest brands. As of July 30, 2009, it offers two different value-based 30-day rate plans: a $30 limited plan, and a $45 unlimited text, web and minutes plan. Straight Talk is a Mobile Virtual Network operator (MVNO) that uses Verizon's CDMA 1xRTT wireless network, which was introduced in 2001 and is said to deliver between 40 and 60 kb/s to customers.[8]

Eight phones are available for use with Straight Talk: the LG 100C, LG 200C, LG 220C, LG 290C, Samsung R451C, Motorola W385, Motorola RAZR V3a and Samsung Finesse R810C. The exception to 1xRTT-only service is the Finesse R810C, an EV-DO-capable handset which performs at higher speeds where such coverage is available. It is the only Straight Talk-branded handset to offer this functionality at present.[citation needed]

Straight Talk is currently exclusive to Wal-Mart stores because of a joint-venture program between the two companies.[9]

International Long Distance

In keeping with its marketing to immigrant communities,[citation needed] TracFone provides international calling options to all its customers. A toll-free number in the US is dialed to make phone calls to at least some telephones (not including cellphones) in over fifty countries.

The International Neighbors plan allows TracFone customers to obtain up to three local telephone numbers in any of several Canadian or Mexican cities. These are forwarded to the TracFone customer in the United States at the standard rates.

Company Operations

TracFone's customer care centers are located in:[citation needed]

TracFone's warehouse is managed by Brightpoint. [10]

Carriers

Currently, TracFone uses the networks of several different cellphone carriers to provide service.

For GSM models:

For CDMA models:[citation needed]

On TracFones with SIM cards, the carrier can be identified in the same manner as any other SIM-based phone, by interpreting the SIM number.[citation needed] On T-Mobile phones, the first line of the SIM number will end in "SIMT5", on Cingular/AT&T, the first line will end in "SIMC4", and on Claro, the first line will end with "SIMCL7".[citation needed]

Notes and references

  1. ^ a b "4Q 2008 Financial and Operating Report": americamovil.com (retrieved 18 Dec 2009)
  2. ^ "Profile, Rating, Complaints": SE Florida Better Business Bureau (retrieved 18 Dec 2009)
  3. ^ "Miami company prepares prepaid cell-phone invasion": South Florida Business Journal (retrieved 18 Dec 2009)
  4. ^ "Available phones": NET10.com (retrieved 17 Dec 2009)
  5. ^ "TracFone Wireless Launches SafeLink Wireless to Aid Nearly 500,000 Low-Income Households in Georgia", Reuters, Thursday, February 5, 2009
  6. ^ "TracFone Wireless Launches SafeLink Wireless to Aid Nearly 585,000 Low-Income Households in Pennsylvania", Business Wire, February 09, 2009
  7. ^ Information on subsidized phone service: lifeline.gov (FCC site)
  8. ^ "Verizon Wireless Embarks on 'Express Network,' Previewing 1XRTT High-Speed Data", prnwire.com (retrieved 18 Dec 2009)
  9. ^ "Walmart To Launch Straight Talk Exclusively, Nationwide", walmart.com (retrieved 18 Dec 2009)
  10. ^ Profile: Brightpoint, Inc. (CELL.O): reuters.com (retrieved 18 Dec 2009)

External links


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