Credit purchased for a prepaid mobile phone may have a time limit — for example, days from the date the last credit was added. In these cases, customers who do not add more credit before expiration will have their remaining balance depleted through expiration of the said credits. There is no compulsion on a prepaid mobile phone user to top up their balance.
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To maintain revenues, some operators have devised reward schemes designed to encourage frequent top-ups. For example, an operator may offer some free SMS to use next month if a user tops up by a certain amount this month. Unlike postpaid phones, where subscribers have to terminate their contracts, it is not easy for an operator to know when a prepaid subscriber has left the network.
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To free up resources on the network for new customers, an operator will periodically delete prepaid SIM cards which have not been used for some time, at which point, their service and its associated phone number is discontinued. The rules for when this deletion happens vary from operator to operator, but may typically occur after six months to a year of non-use. By , the number of prepaid accounts grew past contract accounts, and by , two thirds of all mobile phone accounts worldwide were prepaid accounts. The history of prepaid mobile phones begins in the s, when larger markets were being sought after by the mobile phone operators.
Before this date, all mobile phone services were offered on a post-paid basis , which excluded people with a poor credit rating. Prepaid mobile service was invented by Subscriber Computing, Inc. The prepaid service was sold to Metro Mobile in June , and it was implemented in November The prepaid service was also sold to carriers in Mexico; Celcom in , and implementation took place in Monterrey, Mexico, and to Telcel, where implementation began in November and production took place beginning on April 15, Ericsson also became a partner in the prepaid service; the Memorandum of Understanding MOU was signed in June and the final agreement was signed in late The announcement was made on January 26, or listen to it.
Prepaid service enabled carriers in third world countries to add subscribers without having to print monthly statements, having an accounts receivable department and the ability to add subscribers without concern for their ability to pay their bills.
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A Prepaid plan may have a lower cost often for low usage patterns e. They often have fewer contractual obligations — no early termination fee, freedom to change providers, plans, able to be used by those unable to take out a contract i.
Depending on the local laws, they may be available to those who do not have a permanent address, phone number, or credit card. This makes them popular among travelers and students away from their home towns. Additionally, they are popular with parents who wish to have a way to stay connected with their college age students and have some control over the costs. Sometimes, pay-as-you-go customers pay more for their calls, SMS and data traffic.
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In some cases they are limited in what they can do with their phone — calls to international or premium-rate telephone numbers may be blocked, and they may not be able to roam. These limitations are usually [ citation needed ] the results of deficiencies in the prepaid systems used by the wireless carriers as technology has evolved to the point where all this is easily managed by triggers or APIs to third-party solution providers data, international LD, content, roaming. Current models being deployed by wireless carriers today are capable of setting the price points for all services on an individual basis via packages such that higher pricing is a marketing decision.
The days of higher pricing being due to more expensive network costs are gone. As described above, prepaid accounts require that a subscriber have funds in the account to make outgoing calls except emergency calls , which are always allowed.
Pay As You Go Inactivity: Time For PAYG Credit Expiry & SIM Card Cancellation
In the US, incoming calls are also barred, while in some other countries, a prepaid mobile with zero balance may still receive calls and texts. Some operators e.
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This is then deducted when the customer next adds more credit. The time most likely for a prepaid customer to switch to a different service provider is when the prepaid account reaches a "zero credit balance". Like other service providers, mobile service providers losing a mobile account call it "churn". In the early years, a prepaid mobile phone could only be used within the network of the operator from which the customer purchased the phone.
It was not possible to roam onto other GSM networks when using the phone abroad. This was because the operator had no way to bill calls in real time from another network. As of July , at least 80 countries globally including 37 on the African continent have mandated, or are actively considering mandating, the registration of prepaid SIM users. The reason is a concern of police and security agencies that anonymous use of prepaid mobile services facilitates criminal or terrorist activities.
While there is no doubt that criminals and terrorists use prepaid SIM cards to help stay anonymous and avoid easy detection, to date there has been no empirical evidence to indicate that:. As a result, policymakers decided to repeal the regulation three years later. A prepaid phone number specifically purchased to be used briefly and then replaced is known colloquially as a burner phone or burner. A Los Angeles technology company currently offers a mobile application of the same name that replicates this functionality for a smartphone.
In an effort to differentiate the prepaid from post-paid service for their customers, CSPs have branded prepaid services differently from the post-paid services. O2 pay monthly customers can unlock their phone at any time during their contract for no charge. For other phones and tablets, O2 send a text featuring an unlocking code for you to use.
As for O2 pay-as-you-go customers, just follow the same steps as above. The methods are exactly the same. If you purchased a handset from Three since January then it will already be unlocked. If you own an older handset then you simply have to fill in their online form. An unlock code will arrive within 72 hours, and it will take days for the unlocking to be complete on non-Apple devices but 72 hours for Apple devices.
You'll hear back from them within 48 hours, with the unlocking process taking up to ten working days. For pay-as-you-go customers, you need to have used your device within the past 30 days. For pay monthly customers, it's required that you have paid at least three bills since you received the device, and the same goes for small business customers. Both pay monthly and pay-as-you-go Tesco Mobile devices are available to unlock at any time.
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Tesco Mobile also says they may not be able to unlock recently-launched handsets, so whether or not you can unlock your phone may vary. You should receive your unlock code and instructions within seven days of submitting the online form. Generally, Virgin Mobile devices are sold unlocked but some sold before July may require unlocking. Once you enter the code into your device, it can take between 15 minutes and 48 hours for your device to completely unlock.
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