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América Móvil Completes the Acquisition of Page Plus Cellular

Mexico's América Móvil announced yesterday that its Tracfone Wireless subsidiary had completed the acquisition of the Start Wireless Group, commonly known as Page Plus Cellular. In a brief press release (PDF). América Móvil disclosed that Page Plus had 1.4 million customers at the time of acquisition.

The completion of the sale was all but assured when the FCC gave its approval to the deal a week ago. The sale was first announced in May, 2013 but the required government approval was delayed by concerns raised the Department of Justice about TracFone's ability to support lawfully authorized electronic surveillance of its customers by government agencies.

It remains to be seen what América Móvil's plans for PagePlus are. On the positive side I expect to see new Page Plus branded phones and wider retail distribution of Page Plus airtime cards and phones, including at national retailers like Walmart, BestBuy, Radio Shack and Target stores where TracFone already has a presence.  On the other hand, Page Plus has been noted good customer and dealer support and a liberal, robust Bring Your Own Phone program, two areas that TracFone has struggled with. Hopefully, TracFone will leave PagePlus' activation process and support alone while concentrating on improving marketing and distribution.

Press release:
América Móvil acquires Start Wireless Group” Mexico City, Mexico, January 16, 2014 -- América Móvil, S.A.B. de C.V. (“AMX”) (BMV: AMX; NYSE: AMX; NASDAQ: AMOV; LATIBEX: XAMXL), announced today that its subsidiary Tracfone Wireless, Inc., has completed the acquisition of substantially all of the assets of Start Wireless Group, Inc. (commonly known as “Page Plus”), a mobile virtual network operator (MVNO) in the United States, that provides services to approximately 1.4 million customers and offers, among others, prepaid plans for voice, messaging and data.  
About AMX  
AMX is the leading provider of wireless services in Latin America. As of September 30,
2013, it had 265.1 million wireless subscribers and 68.3 million fixed revenue generating
units in the Americas. 

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18 comments:

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  1. If they mess with byod, it will be a disaster for them.

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  2. What a great reason!! Our country is really going in a dangerous direction! "... the required government approval was delayed by concerns raised the Department of Justice about TracFone's ability to support lawfully authorized electronic surveillance of its customers by government agencies."

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  3. Wait until they transfer customer service to Tracfone/ Net 10/Straight Talk. People will leave Page Plus in droves.

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    1. Yeah, their the fourth largest cell provider in the world but people are going to leave in droves.

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  4. Customer Service goes down the toilet.

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  5. America Mobil ruined Simple Mobile. SM's customer service is now just as bad as the other incompetent dishonest AM brands ( Tracphone, Net10, Safe link, Telecel, Straight Talk etc ).

    The future looks bad for Page Plus dealers. Now would be a good time to become a dealer for other Verizon MVNOs.

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    1. Just how many "dealers" does is take to support 1.5 million subs? 150? They had virtually zero marketing and distribution of handsets before...

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    2. 1.5 million is nothing to scoff at. I believe it made PagePlus the largest non-America movil MVNO. And there are a lot more than 150 Page Plus dealers. There are at least four within walking distance of my home alone.

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  6. I feel sorry for Kitty Wireless, a major PP dealer. From all accounts they were one of the best dealers out there, with great cs and robust and interesting user forums. I joined their forums even though I am not a customer. I just left Net10 today, mainly because of their cs. Nothing wrong with the phone service, but my time and blood pressure are worth something too.

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    1. I think Kitty will be just fine. She is moving her business to Florida to be in close proximity to America Movil's USA corporate headquarters. Moving a business is a non-trivial exercise and costs a fair amount of money. I'm sure she wouldn't be making this decision lightly.

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  7. From Kirkers --

    PagePlus service is solid, but its account management and customer service are a bit dodgy. I have to call in every month to make sure my monthly plan autopay works and they have to put back the money from my backup minutes bucket which the automated system ALWAYS deducts instead of using my credit card. This has gone on for YEARS, with no change in the system. Also, there was NO sign that P+ was going to handle 4G smartphones properly. As 3G phones vanish from the marketplace, P+ has no strategy for bringing a 4G CDMA phone with their SIM cards onto their 3G-only CDMA network. I had to flash my current phone onto P+ via a third party, and that is much more expensive and risky than a standard activation. I do hope Am Movil does not ruin P+, but there are definitely ways things could be improved as well.

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    1. 1. If you are a "night-owl" who uses your phone on the night your plan renews between Midnight and 2 AM, you will use cash balance before the new plan is loaded. If you sign up for AutoPay with Kitty Wireless, you will never have to call PagePlus to get your money back. Her system detects and flags your cash use during renewal hours, and her staff requests refunds for you. No extra charge for this service. Plus, for only $50 one time, you will save ~8% every month.
      2. PagePlus has NO CONTROL over Verizon Wireless policy not to allow LTE phones on prepaid service. This is about money, not technology. Switch to AT&T, Tmobile or Sprint if you want LTE on prepaid.

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  8. I have used Kitty Wireless for years on multiple lines of service. They provide outstanding service, with accurate autopay processing and rapid email response to any questions. I consider them the Nordstom of Page Plus dealers.

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    1. Let's see how long it takes American Movil to steal their tech ideas and other intellectual property before cutting their margins to the bone and driving her away with the other service-oriented dealers. The new Pp owner has a history of turning dealers into order-takers, and you can't provide KW service without decent margins. She spent several hundred thousand on the automation that let her grow and it has to be maintained. Am Movil is probably luring her to Miami with a bunch of wonderful-sounding promises that may lower her defenses. I sure hope she has hired a good IP lawyer or two and has an iron-clad agreement. But she cannot afford a two-year lawsuit, so it may not make much difference in the long run unless her law firm will take the case for a contingent fee. Stay tuned for some famous Kitty drama in a year or two.

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  9. Page Plus has only 1.5 million customers?!? That's NOTHING compared to the 20+ million that the Tracfone brands have. Also, I suspect Page Plus would languish and shrink as they are, with their limited selection of non-LTE phones. Page Plus should switch network providers to Sprint or someone else who let's them have modern LTE smartphones. I wouldn't be surprised if that ends up being one of the first changes Tracfone will make. They already do this with Straight Talk and Net10.

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    1. You are comparing apples to oranges. Most of the 20+ M are dumb TracFones and Safelink/free phones. Then subtract the remaining AT&T and the Sprint models to get the Vz subs and 1.5M is a lot closer. AmMov does not leverage 20+ M subs in Vzw negotiations. No don't hold your breath for LTE or you'll turn blue waiting.

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  10. From Kirkers --

    I tried to set up an account with Kitty Wireless a couple of different times. Each time KW blocked me because I could not somehow fulfill their financial security requirements. I have no general credit problems, no debt, etc. I never could figure out what KW's problem with me was, so I gave up. As it is, there seems to be too much drama around KW already, and with the Am Movil acqusition it is likely to get much worse.

    As for LTE, I cannot see how the MVNOs have an open-ended future without it. For now, at least you can flash a 4G phone onto P+ network, although you will only get 3G speed (if the flash is done exactly right -- otherwise, just 1xrrt speed). Also, the flash costs unless you are a very skilled and very fearless DIY type. Actually, 3G speed should do well for MVNOs for some time, but there is a real prospect in the next few years of the 3G bandwidth being abandoned entirely in favour of 4G/LTE exclusively.

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    1. Vzw says they will keep the 3G network running for several more years, and they will need MVNO revenue to help pay the maintenance costs. At that point or some time before, the MVNOs will be able to resell LTE service. KW has always solved my issue when I file a trouble ticket. Kitty's brother Caleb called me once.

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