The Perils of Prepaid – Bits Blog – NYTimes.com

MetroPCS Discovers the Perils of Prepaid – Bits Blog – NYTimes.com.

Telephony’s a hard business in the USA. In the heady dot-com days I worked for one of the VoIP pioneers – Pagoo. Sadly they didn’t survive as a telephony player.

In Thailand the prepaid market is huge and very simple with only a few national competitors.

Happy Phone Card

Happy Phone Card

I use “Happy”‘s prepaid service with the Nokia phone I bought from the USA. It was originally tied to AT&T Cellular but I bought an unlock code. Now I can use it anywhere. I spend 300 Baht or less per month. That’s less than ten US Dollars. I can buy a topup card anywhere.

I am on a very simple plan: 10 baht for the first minute, 2 baht for subsequent minutes all over Thailand, 24 x 7. Incoming calls and SMS messages are free. I only use voice and SMS.

Credit lasts about six months.

Happy is always sending me SMS messages (in Thai) offering value-added services like sports scores, horoscopes and ring tones. They also make robo-calls to my phone once every couple of weeks but I ignore them. At least they don’t call in the evenings or at weekends.

If I ignore the call (the called is something like *333) they retry a couple of times then give up.

Happy still sell these attractive scratch-off phone cards. 1-2-Call, a competitor, has moved to a EPOS system. Convenience stores like 7-11 and Family Mart generate a cash-register receipt with the code when you want to top-up. It isn’t so attractive as a card but it must save a lot in distribution costs.

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2 Responses to “The Perils of Prepaid – Bits Blog – NYTimes.com”

  1. Nokia N95 Experience « Bkkphotographer's Blog Says:

    […] used the SIM card from my very basic Happy prepaid service. It worked for basic service but I wasn’t surprised that it would not do anything […]

  2. Boring but Economical Prepaid Phone Topup « Bkkphotographer's Blog Says:

    […] wrote before here about how prevalent prepaid calling plans are for mobile phones in Thailand. Here’s an […]

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