Sprint Reveals Fourth Prepaid Wireless Brand Strategy

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Warren, N.J. -  Sprint revealed not only the name of its new pay-as-you-go prepaid service - Common Cents Mobile - but announced that the service and handsets would be available exclusively through more than 700 Walmart stores beginning May 15.

The new brand expands the carrier's selection of prepaid brands to four as part of

prepaid-brand repositioning

. The other brands are Boost Mobile, Virgin Mobile, and Assurance.

With the announcement, Walmart expands its portfolio of exclusive prepaid brands to two. Last fall, the retailer launched its exclusive Straight Talk prepaid brand, which offers monthly unlimited plans through MVNO (mobile virtual network operator) Tracfone Wireless.

 Targeted to the budget-conscious, the Common Cents offers basic handsets, 7-cent minutes, 7-cent text messages, and a round-down pricing feature unavailable from other prepaid brands. Round-down pricing rounds down usage to the nearest whole minute after the first minute of usage.

 Unlimited monthly prepaid plans "helped re-energize the prepaid business" in 2009, but pay-by-the-minute users nonetheless accounted for 63 percent of prepaid users in the fourth quarter of 2009 and 49 percent of prepaid gross adds, Sprint said in quoting Nielsen statistics.

To activate the service, consumers buy a $20 or $30 prepaid card in the stores or register a credit or debit card or PayPal account at


. The prepaid cards are good for a maximum of 30 days and 60 days, respectively. Consumers could also add unlimited messaging for $20 per month and data access for $1/megabyte per day.

 Basic handsets in the program include the LG101 at $19.77, the Samsung M340 at $39.77, and the Kyocera S2300 for $69.77.

  As part of the launch, Common Cents Mobile plans a regional ad campaign and "jingle" said to promote the idea of turning back to a simpler time.


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