Postpaid carriers might take heed of a new survey from the New Millenium Research Council (NMRC). The survey found that one in five current U.S. postpaid cell phone consumers, an estimated 24.6 million American adults, is likely to switch in early 2011 to less expensive unlimited prepaid wireless service with no early cancellation penalty.
While the survey was underwritten with a grant from TracFone’s Net10, a prepaid carrier, the NMRC says it maintained 100 percent editorial control over the poll, the analysis of the results and the manner in which the information was released to the public.
The survey was conducted from Oct. 7-10 and included 1,008 adults comprising 500 men and 508 women 18 years of age and older living in the continental U.S. Respondents were screened for ownership of a working cell phone.
Overall, the study found that roughly half (47 percent) of U.S. cell phone users with contract-based service – an estimated 57.8 million consumers – are “very likely” (23 percent) or “somewhat likely” (24 percent) to switch to “a no-contract or prepaid phone” when “your cell phone early-cancellation penalty period ends and you can switch at no cost.”
The top four reasons cited for U.S. consumers to switch to a prepaid cell phone (including “major” or “somewhat” of an impact): 68 percent “needed or wanted to cut cell phone bill costs;” 58 percent were “paying too much for a smartphone with features you didn’t need or use;” 49 percent were “unhappy with (an) early cancellation penalty for contract-based phone service;” and 48 percent cited the “recent availability of unlimited talk, text, Web and email access on no-contract basis for about $50 a month.”
In March 2009, NMRC forecasted an imminent shift by cell phone consumers from postpaid to prepaid service. In March of this year, NMRC reported that the number of new prepaid wireless phone customers in U.S. for the first quarter eclipsed the number of new contract-based phone customers during the final three months of 2009.