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TracFone Wireless

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

TracFone Wireless, Inc.
PredecessorTopp Telecom, Inc.
FoundedMiami, Florida, United States (1996 (1996))
Miami, Florida
United States
Number of locations
90,000 retail locations
Area served
United States (incl. Hawaii, Alaska, and Puerto Rico)
ServicesPrepaid mobile virtual network operator Brands: Tracfone, Net10 Wireless, SafeLink Wireless, Straight Talk, Page Plus Cellular, GoSmart Mobile, Telcel America, Simple Mobile, Walmart Family Mobile, Total Wireless
Number of employees
400+ (2008)
ParentAmérica Móvil (100%)[1]
Footnotes / references

TracFone Wireless, Inc. (TFWI) is an American prepaid, no-contract mobile phone provider. TFWI is a subsidiary of Mexico's largest telecommunications company, América Móvil,[3] and offers products and services under several brands. It operates as a mobile virtual network operator (MVNO), holding agreements with the United States' largest wireless network operators to provide service, including Verizon Wireless, AT&T Mobility, T-Mobile US, Sprint Corporation, and U.S. Cellular.[citation needed] TracFone Wireless had 25.668 million subscribers in 2015.


TracFone Wireless, Inc. (TFWI) was established in 1996 as Topp Telecom Inc., a prepaid mobile phone company, in Miami, Florida. It was founded by F.J. Pollak and David Topp. In February 1999, Topp received a major infusion of capital from Teléfonos de México (NYSETMX), a.k.a. TelMex, Mexico's largest telephone company. TelMex paid $57.5 million for a 55 percent controlling interest in the company.

In 2000, TelMex spun off their mobile unit, creating América Móvil, of which Topp Telecom became a subsidiary. In November 2000, Topp Telecom Inc. changed its name to TracFone Wireless Inc.[4]

In 2012, América Móvil acquired rival network Simple Mobile. In May 2013, it purchased Page Plus Cellular, which had 1.4 million subscribers. On January 6, 2014, regulatory approval was received and Page Plus Cellular began operating as a subsidiary of América Móvil.


Tracfone Logo

Originally, TracFone service was limited to TracFone-branded phones, which are locked to the TracFone service using an internal SIM card. Other GSM phones, even those that were unlocked from another carrier, could not accept a TracFone SIM card, because these are bound to a specific handset. However, in 2013, TracFone began selling SIM cards that could be inserted into qualifying non-TracFone phones (such as Verizon CDMA phones) to register them with TracFone. In 2015, this program was extended to compatible unlocked GSM phones.

Basic phone plans

  • Non-Android phones have a usage account denominated in units. Each minute of a phone call (initiated or received) is 1.0 unit. Sending or receiving a text is charged as some fraction of a minute (typically 0.3, but 0.5 on some models). A minute of Web access is 0.5 unit. Earlier TracFone models charged double (2.0 units per minute) for roaming outside the user's home phone area, but all current phones operate independent of location in the United States.
  • Android phones have separate accounts for phone minutes, texts, and megabytes of data exchanged. Thus, a service card for 60 minutes adds 60 phone minutes, 60 texts, and 60 megabytes.
  • On specific phones with the "triple minutes for life" feature, the same 60-minute card instead adds 180 minutes, 180 texts, and 180 megabytes. The days of service stated on the card do not triple. Newer phones do not feature "triple minutes for life", but TracFone honors the promise on any phone for which it was given. Newer cards, providing only minutes, only texts, or only megabytes without augmenting other aspects of the service, do not triple on any phone.[5]

Smartphone plans

  • Since 2015, Tracfone has offered a variety of smartphone plans, which offer various talk, text and data allotments. Current plans start at $15 for 500 minutes, 500 texts and 500 MB of data.

TracFone occasionally discloses promo codes that will provide additional service units if the customer enters the code when redeeming a service card.[5]

Calling outside the U.S.

TracFone provides several options to let customers communicate outside the United States:[6]

  • Any customer can call a designated toll-free number and follow recorded instructions to initiate calls to over fifty countries. In some of these countries, cellphones cannot be reached.
  • By providing the phone number and serial number at, a customer can associate up to ten toll-free numbers with designated phone numbers outside the United States. When the customer dials the toll-free number, TracFone identifies the customer's phone and places the call to the associated number.
  • By providing the phone number and serial number at, a customer can obtain up to three local telephone numbers in any of several Mexican cities. Calls to these numbers are forwarded to the TracFone customer in the United States.
  • Tracfone also offers a $10 Global card, which allows customers to call mobile and landline number anywhere in the world, including countries that are not included in the Basic International Long Distance offer. The balance on the card expires in 180 days of last use or 30 days after inactive service.[7]

The only charge to the Tracfone customer for these services is the deduction of actual connect time from the prepaid minutes on the customer's phone. There is no roaming program by which a TracFone phone can be used outside the United States.[6]

Other brands

In addition to its namesake product, TracFone Wireless offers products under the brands Clearway, GoSmart Mobile, NET10 Wireless, Page Plus Cellular, Safelink Wireless, SIMPLE Mobile, Straight Talk, Telcel América, Total Wireless, and Walmart Family Mobile. These brands differ not only in their logos and prepaid minute rates, but also in their service offerings.

Class actions

Misleading "unlimited" plan claims by Straight Talk, Net10 Wireless, Simple Mobile, and Telcel America – 2015

The Federal Trade Commission started a lawsuit naming TracFone, saying that they limited their "unlimited" data. This led to $40 million in consumer refunds as a result.[citation needed]

Roaming and repair issues – 2007

On February 9, 2007, a preliminary settlement in a class-action lawsuit against TracFone was carried out by Jeanette Wagner, and approved in the Boone County Circuit Court in Kentucky.[8][9] The complainants alleged that TracFone misled consumers by charging a roaming rate in their home calling area (they were charged for 2 units per minute, not the usual 1 unit per minute), and that it refused to extend their prepaid service time during handset repairs. As a result of the settlement, Tracfone gave each of their customers an extra 20 units of airtime.

Networks and coverage

TracFone Wireless uses the networks of major wireless providers to offer service, the coverage of which varies by the provider for each device. Retail boxes indicate the network with a code printed in the lower right corner on the back of the box.

Network Box code Technology LTE since
AT&T GSM-A GSM September 2013
T-Mobile GSM-T GSM March 2014
Sprint CDMA-S CDMA May 2013
Verizon CDMA-V CDMA December 2014

See also


  1. ^ García-Moreno, Carlos. "América Móvil's first quarter of 2019 financial and operating report" (PDF). Retrieved June 13, 2019.
  2. ^ "About Us". TracFone Wireless. Retrieved December 27, 2012.
  3. ^ Lunden, Ingrid (March 18, 2019). "America Movil acquires Nextel in Brazil for $905M". TechCrunch. Retrieved May 31, 2019.
  4. ^ "Miami Company Prepares Prepaid Cell-Phone Invasion". South Florida Business Journal. Retrieved December 18, 2009.
  5. ^ a b Peter Vanosdall (December 18, 2018). "How Do Minutes Work on Tracfone Smartphones?". TracfoneReviewer (blog).
  6. ^ a b "Tracfone - International Long Distance". Retrieved December 27, 2019.
  7. ^ "International Long Distance Rates". TracFone Wireless. Retrieved June 1, 2019.
  8. ^ "News Northern Kentucky | The Enquirer". Retrieved December 27, 2019.
  9. ^ "TracFone Wireless Inc. Roaming Fees Class Action Settlemen". Class action news consumers can use. Retrieved February 6, 2011.

External links

This page was last edited on 18 June 2020, at 00:36
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