Tarifica has announced the latest Tarifica Scores for all postpaid mobile plans in the United States.
The Tarifica Score™ is an advanced algorithm used to evaluate mobile plans based on the value they offer consumers. It incorporates every aspect of a mobile plan (including usage allotments, geographic coverage, data speeds and additional features) and weighs them against all the plan’s associated costs to determine the ultimate consumer value.
“In today’s mobile marketplace, consumers are flooded with hundreds of plan variations and constantly shifting promotions and deals – the majority of which come with different costs and services, and access networks of differing strengths. When making a decision that will likely impact them for up to two years, consumers can use Tarifica Scores to cut through the clutter and identify those plans in every market segment that offer the best value for the money,” stated Tarifica Program Manager, Will Watts.
Plans were grouped into four broad categories: 1) Individual Plans with Phone, 2) Individual Plans without Phone, 3) Shared Plans with Phone, and 4) Shared Plans without Phone. Each of these categories was further segmented based on monthly cost. Tarifica Scores were calculated for all the published plans offered by Verizon Wireless, AT&T, Sprint, T-Mobile and US Cellular.
T-Mobile’s plans tended to perform quite well, particularly in the “Without Phone” categories. Their combination of solid average download speeds, generous data allotments, added bonus features like unlimited streaming music and free roaming, and moderate costs were able to offset the carrier’s weaker network coverage. Verizon Wireless also performed well, showing strength in the “With Phone” categories, and in the higher priced segments where the carrier’s network speed and wide geographic coverage were able to counterbalance its higher costs and lower data allowances.
While generally competitive, AT&T’s plans were often too expensive to be competitive with T-Mobile in the mid-tier price range and, although the carrier is close to Verizon Wireless in terms of speed and coverage, the latter’s slight advantage in both caused AT&T’s plans to come up short in the higher cost segments. Finally, while Sprint’s plans benefited from their lower costs and frequent inclusion of unlimited data, its average speed was simply too slow, and its coverage too limited, to be competitive with any of its tier one rivals, resulting in the fewest segment wins and the lowest average scores.
“In short, consumers who already own a smartphone will get the best value from T-Mobile’s plans whether they are signing up for themselves or for their whole family. On the other hand, those interested in purchasing a mobile plan with a high-end phone are likely to find Verizon Wireless offersthe best value, provided its more expensive options are in their price range,” stated Tarifica Program Director Ken Dolsky.
Scores by category (best plan in each category awarded a score of 100):
Individual Plans without Phone – This was the most closely grouped category, likely reflecting the fierce competition in the US market, with the top scores from all tier one carriers above 80, something not heretofore seen in other countries. T-Mobile’s Simple Choice plan with unlimited data won the category, followed closely by Sprint’s $60 unlimited plan. Interestingly, each of the tier one carriers captured at least one market segment in this category.
Individual Plans with Phone – Verizon Wireless’s 10 GB version of the More Everything Plan won the category by a relatively sizable margin, while T-Mobile’s Simple Choice plan with unlimited data came in second with a still respectable score of 87. All plans were scored with the iPhone 5S with the exception of the lowest market segment (under $50 per month) where plans were scored using feature phones. Scoring is based on the total cost of service and device, incorporating all upfront and recurring charges.
Shared Plans without Phones – Continuing its dominance in the without phone category, T-Mobile’s Simple Choice plan with unlimited data was the winner. Moreover, unlike the case with individual plans, the competition was not particularly close, with the highest scoring plans from the other tier one carriers tightly grouped together in the low 70s. Driving the wide gap was T-Mobile’s strategy to offer more aggressive escalating volume discounts as lines are added than any of its peers. Shared plans were scored based on four users per plan.
Shared Plans With Device – Mirroring its solid performance among individual plans with phones, Verizon Wireless dominated this category, as well, with the 30 GB version of the More Everything Plan taking top honors. Further, the carrier came out on top in every price segment, with the exception of the lowest tier, which was won by AT&T. Shared plans with device were scored based on the costs/allotments for four users each with an iPhone 5S, with the exception of the least expensive plans which were scored with feature phones.
Tarifica, a unit of T3i Group, has been the leading provider of telecom pricing information for close to four decades. It maintains the most robust, in-depth and up-to-date pricing database in the industry, which includes mobile and fixed line rates from over 400 operators in 85 countries, as well as historical data going back to 1997. Tarifica also produces reports, surveys, publications and custom analyses. Its clients include carriers, regulators, enterprises and consultants in every region of the globe. For more information, please visit www.tarifica.com.