Wave7 Research has released the results of its latest Independent Prepaid Dealer Survey, which was conducted in late February. The survey asked 30 independent, multi-brand dealers in 20 NFL cites which prepaid operators they carried and which were the most popular. The most popular operator with the dealers surveyed was once again Simple Mobile which was sold by 26 out of 30 dealers. Simple Mobile was the best brand selling brand as well. It was the top seller at 12 dealers and second best at 10. This is the fifth quarter in a row that Simple Mobile has been the top operator in availability and sales in Wave 7's survey. Wave7 awarded second place to T-Mobile Prepaid which has a presence in 17 stores and was the top seller at 10 of them. H2O, Ultra Mobile, Net10, GoSmart and PagePlus rounded out the top seven in availability. H2O and Ultra Mobile were the top sellers at one dealer each. Verizon Prepaid, which launched a dealer program last Spring, was carried by 7 dealers, compared with only one last quarter. Boost Mobile and MetroPCS are mainly sold though exclusive dealerships rather than the multi-carrier ones Wave7 surveyed. Nonetheless, Boost was available at 7 surveyed stores and was the top seller at two of them. MetroPCS was sold by 2 stores and was the top seller at one. Telcel America, Univision Mobile and Airvoice were found in a few stores but were not top sellers at any. AT&T GoPhone, Red Pocket, EasyGo, Eco Mobile, and Rok Mobile which were found at one store each but were rated also-rans in sales by the dealers that carried them. Selectel, Mango Mobile, Expo Mobile and Butterfly, all of which had a minor presence in Wave7's Q4, 2016 dealer survey are no longer carried by any of the dealer's surveyed. See the table below for the full results of the survey.
For me, two things stand out in the survey. First, six out of the top ten operators (Simple Mobile, T-Mobile Prepaid GoSmart, Ultra Mobile, Lycamobile and Telcel America) are T-Mobile based. Secondly, five out of the top ten operators are TracFone brands (Simple Mobile, Net10, GoSmart, PagePlus and Telcel America). I'm not surprised by the popularity of T-Mobile MVNOs. The T-Mobile network performs very well in most cities and T-Mobile MVNOs generally offer more better value than their AT&T based rivals. TracFone is the dominant MVNO in the US and its brands are better known than most of the independent MVNOs. I hear a lot of grumbling from dealers about TracFone's poor dealer support and shrinking commissions but that doesn't seem convinced may dealers to abandon them.