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Survey Reports Simple Mobile and T-Mobile Prepaid Top Sellers at Independent Urban Dealers

Telecom industry research firm Wave7 Research has shared an interesting survey with me.

The survey was conducted by phone between February 29 and March 2. Wave7 asked 30 independent mobile dealers in 22 NFL cities which mobile operators they sold and which brands were their top sellers. Only independent multi-brand dealers were surveyed, not carrier exclusive dealers or dealers affiliated with T-Mobile's Simply Prepaid or TracFone's Simple Mobile Solutions franchises.

The results were rather surprising to me. T-Mobie based operators predominated, probably because the stores surveyed were located in urban areas. The top brand in terms of number of stores carrying it was TracFone's Simple Mobile (a T-Mobile MVNO) which was sold by 27 out of the 30 dealers. The top brands in sales were T-Mobile Prepaid and Simple Mobile. Ultra Mobile, GoSmart, NET10 and H2O Wireless were also sold by the majority of dealers but were not generally top sellers.

RedPocket, which was a major brand among independent dealers as recently as a year ago, was only carried by two dealers.

Other findings from Wave7 include:

  • Most of the dealers surveyed spoke English as their second language and their customers were largely international.
  • A number of dealers have gone out of business recently or switched to being exclusive Cricket, MetroPCS or Boost Mobile dealers. Wave7's Jeffry Moore told me he believes that "...the growth of Cricket and MetroPCS dealers (and continuing strong presence of Boost dealers) have made things more difficult" for independents.
  • Monthly activations per store ranged from 10 to 100 and averaged around 30 to 45 which Jeffery considers low.
  • SIM sales outnumber phone sales at most dealers.
The table below from Wave7 details the survey results.

Wave7 Independent Prepaid Dealer Survey for 1Q16
Prepaid Carrier Presence among 30 dealers 1st place in sales 2nd place 3rd place Also-ran
Simple Mobile 27 6 11 3 7
T-Mobile prepaid 21 10 2 4 5
Net10 19 1 3 1 14
GoSmart 18 2 3 3 10
H2O Wireless 17 0 1 6 12
Ultra Mobile 16 2 3 1 10
PagePlus 14 0 2 3 9
Lycamobile 12 3 1 5 3
Boost 11 2 3 3 3
TelCel 5 0 0 0 5
MetroPCS 4 4 0 0 0
Red Pocket 2 0 0 0 2
Others GoPhone, Cricket, Selectel, and Black Wireless were carried by one store each.  Univision Mobile was mentioned by several dealers but wasn't included due to its aquistion by Ultra Mobile.

Source Wave7 Research


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  1. With Tracfone eliminating Vidapay, Incomm, and Epay as dealer payment portal partners, and forcing their own new DAP (Dealer Activation Portal), with it's "substantially" reduced spiffs, and activation and residual payouts to dealers, It's a virtual certainty that Independent Tracfone dealers will close in very large numbers. My guess is that unlocked phone sales will likewise decline as distributors, and perhaps manufacturer's recognize that phone dealers cannot continue with shrinking profit margins.

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