Prepaid revolution Featured

9:58am EDT July 22, 2002

Prepaid wireless was once the domain of people with bad credit, with providers using it to make bad credit risks pay for their services in advance. Many business owners have now discovered that it’s a great way to keep not only their own wireless bills under control, but those of their employees.

Instead of issuing a cell phone or pager to a salesperson, for example, then trying to figure out how many of the calls were actually business related, a prepaid card is issued. An employee might be budgeted $50 or $100 a month of cellular time to use as they see fit. This forces them to be responsible with the company’s time, and eliminates fluctuating bills for the company. Accounting will know each month exactly what wireless expenses will be.

In addition to prepaid phone cards, there is prepaid paging.

“When someone purchases a pager, they are given three months of service or 1,000 credits of usage,” says Travis Lee, telecommunications marketing manager for Big Planet, a provider of communications and technology products and services. “It allows the customer to manage the use of the pager. They will not have the surprise of an unexpected bill. The customer can manage how many pages they receive and when they receive them.”

Prepaid wireless also allows for temporary or trial usage of a pager, because there is no long-term contract to sign. If you are going to be away from the office for an extended period, you could use a prepaid page product to stay in contact with the office. When the time is up, you simply don’t renew.

When the time or credits are almost up, the company sends a page alerting you, along with a toll free number to call if you want to renew.

If you use a credit-based plan, one credit is deducted for a normal page, and for alphanumeric pages, one credit is deducted for every 10 characters. Some models of pagers display how many credits are remaining at all times.

Big Planet also offers the ability to send a message to someone’s pager via the Internet. Up to 255 characters can be entered for each message.

“Prepaid paging fits well into our market of consumers and small businesses,” says Richard King, president of Big Planet. “It’s a way to manage expenses and costs. Paging is still by far the least expensive way to maintain contact with employees on the road. Also, from the billing end of it, there really is none. It’s a very simple and clean process.”

Prepaid wireless at a glance

  • A great way to control wireless costs for yourself or your employees.

  • Contracts can be structured on time or “credits”.

  • Good for temporary or short-term needs of wireless products.

  • Prepaid is available for both cellular phones and pagers.

  • Usually has no long-term contract.