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Sprint Personalizes Prepaid With ItsOn

Sarah Thomas
7/8/2014
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Sprint is planning to personalize its prepaid mobile data, voice, and messaging service offers, and it's taking one of its MVNOs in house to do so.

The carrier announced Tuesday that it plans to integrate OSS/BSS technology from ItsOn Inc. into its prepaid platform to build more personalized, flexible services and pricing plans. As such, the consumer-facing MVNO that ItsOn launched on Sprint Corp. (NYSE: S)'s network in 2013, Zact Mobile, will cease operations. (See Sprint Revamps Prepaid Offers.)

ItsOn said Zact customers can choose to keep their device and migrate to Sprint or discontinue service. It began offering its service free as of July 4. The startup says its goal was to use the MVNO to showcase its technology and attract the interest of wireless operators looking to white-label the service. Sprint is just the first. (See The Re-Resurgence of the Prepaid Wars.)

The announcement builds on the relationship between ItsOn and Sprint first announced last month, at which time ItsOn CEO Greg Raleigh told Bloomberg that Sprint would actually use the cloud service for its contracted customer base. (See Sprint Chooses ItsOn for OSS/BSS.)

On the prepaid front, Sprint didn't outline what kind of services it would launch using ItsOn, but looking at Zact's offerings provides a pretty good idea. Zact was a 2013 Leading Lights finalist for Best New Mobile Product for a service that lets Android users tweak and customize their plans any which way to suit their needs. Zact offered 36,000 plan options its customers could switch to at any time via a mobile app, promising no overages, along with credits for any used data. (See 2013 Leading Lights Finalists: Best New Product (Mobile).)

It's an innovative offering, whether on prepaid or postpaid, where customers are used to selecting buckets of megabytes and hoping they bought enough data without having too much excess. (See Carriers Warm Up to Service Innovation and Policy Revenues Climbing, but Hazards Loom.)

ItsOn says its software-as-a-service contract with Sprint will enable rapid service creation, sponsored data plans, and automated OSS/BSS and network functions, including policy orchestration, charging, rating, billing, and on-device customer care.

CNet has uncovered Sprint trials of lower-cost family data-sharing plans. ItsOn didn't say whether it was powering the new services, but this is the type of change that Sprint would be able to execute easily with a more flexible OSS/BSS. (See Sprint Launches No-Sharing 'Framily' Plans and AT&T Reduces Its Family Plan Pricing.)

Sprint's prepaid group says it will repurpose the Zact Mobile cloud-based virtual network platform beginning this summer.

— Sarah Reedy, Senior Editor, Light Reading

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mhhf1ve
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mhhf1ve,
User Rank: Light Sabre
7/9/2014 | 6:48:40 PM
How does this affect Sprint's brand?
I wonder what the effect of adopting more prepaid plans does to Sprint's image..? Does it really make them look innovative to customers, or does it make them seem more like a "discount wireless provider" that can't compete with VZW and ATT?
sarahthomas1011
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sarahthomas1011,
User Rank: Light Beer
7/9/2014 | 11:17:28 AM
Re: Much more to come...
I have a feeling most Zact customers will transition over. Raleigh says the pricing may be different but comparable. Sprint is using it as a way to expand its prepaid base. I'm very curious to see which of the thousands of app plans Sprint offers. It's a good way to really customize your plan and only pay for what you use, but do consumers want that much ongoing involvement in their plans?
jasonmeyers
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jasonmeyers,
User Rank: Blogger
7/8/2014 | 6:57:24 PM
Re: Much more to come...
Did they say anything about the target customer demographic -- is it the same as it was for Zact? Just wondering if there is a content/app strategy geared toward a specific group, or if the play is strictly flexible pricing and plans. 
sarahthomas1011
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sarahthomas1011,
User Rank: Light Beer
7/8/2014 | 3:01:24 PM
Much more to come...
Just spoke with ItsOn CEO Greg Raleigh, who said that the postpaid and prepaid contracts with Sprint are two different ones, so it will be powering both, but obviously with different use cases (unlimited data versus mix-and-match). It sounds like much more information is forthcoming...waiting on Sprint to reveal how it will use the many capabilities ItsOn enables.
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