TracFone Wireless


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)
ParentVerizon Communications (100%)[1]
Footnotes / references

TracFone Wireless, Inc. (TFWI) is an American prepaid, no-contract mobile phone provider. TFWI is a subsidiary of Verizon Communications,[1] 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 AT&T Mobility, T-Mobile US, Verizon and UScellular.[3]

In 2021, Verizon acquired TracFone Wireless, Inc. from Mexico-based América Móvil in a deal worth up to $6.9 billion, involving 20 million subscribers. The deal was approved by the FCC on November 22, 2021 and closed the following day.[4] [5][1]


TracFone Wireless, Inc. was established in 1996 as Topp Telecom Inc., a prepaid mobile phone company, in Miami, Florida. It was founded by David Topp and F.J. Pollak. Pollak acted as the CEO of Tracfone until his death in 2016. [6] In February 1999, Topp received a major infusion of capital from Teléfonos de México (NYSE: TMX), a.k.a. TelMex, Mexico's largest telephone company. TelMex paid $57.5 million for a 55 percent controlling interest in the company.[7]

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.[8]

In 2012, América Móvil acquired rival network Simple Mobile.

In May 2013, América Móvil 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.

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 unveiled Bring Your Own Phone, and began selling SIM cards that could be inserted into qualifying non-TracFone phones (such as Verizon CDMA phones) to register them with TracFone.[9] In 2015, this program was extended to compatible unlocked GSM phones and renamed "Bring Your Own Phone".

On September 14, 2020, Verizon Wireless announced its intent to acquire TracFone in a cash-and-stock deal worth up to $6.9 billion. The deal closed on November 23, 2021.[4][10][11][1]

Other brands and subsidiaries

TracFone Wireless operates several other brands and services, including subsidiaries Straight Talk, SIMPLE Mobile, Total Wireless, Walmart Family Mobile, NET10 Wireless, Page Plus, SafeLink, GoSmart Mobile, Telcel America, and Clearway.[6]

Straight Talk

Straight Talk Wireless was launched on October 18, 2009 as a no-contract phone plan service. As part of an agreement with Walmart, Walmart is Straight Talk's exclusive retailer.[12]

Simple Mobile

Simple Mobile Inc. (stylized SIMPLE Mobile) was founded in November 2009 as a prepaid mobile network operator of T-Mobile US.[13] Simple Mobile Inc. was acquired by TracFone Wireless in 2012. América Móvil, TFWI's parent company, acquired Simple Mobile in June 2012 and incorporated it as a subsidiary of TracFone Wireless.[14]

Total Wireless

Total Wireless is a subsidiary of TracFone Wireless.[15] Total Wireless is a mobile virtual network operator (MVNO) that uses the Verizon network.[16]

Walmart Family Mobile & GoSmart

Walmart Family Mobile and GoSmart, were purchased by TracFone from T-Mobile in September 2016.[17] GoSmart Mobile was previously a T-Mobile US subsidiary that became available in the US on February 19, 2013.[18]

Net10 Wireless

Net10 Wireless (NET10 Wireless) is a subsidiary of TracFone Wireless which offers no-contract phone plans.[19] Net10's subsidiary SafeLink Wireless is a Lifeline supported service for low-income and disabled consumers in the United States.[20] Lifeline is funded through the Universal Service Fund.[21]

Page Plus Cellular

Page Plus Cellular is a prepaid Verizon Wireless mobile virtual network operator in the United States operated by TracFone Wireless, Inc.[22] In May 2013, América Móvil purchased Page Plus Cellular for an undisclosed amount.[23]

Former brands

Telcel América

Telcel América was a wireless service from TracFone that allowed its users to call internationally.[24] Telcel América was a brand of TracFone Inc. in the United States, while Telcel in Mexico is a fully owned subsidiary of TracFone's parent company, América Móvil.

Telcel América folded into TracFone's brand Simple Mobile and its customers were moved over beginning in February 2021.[25][26]

Legal issues

Roaming and repair issues

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.[27][28] 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.

Misleading "unlimited" plan claims

In January 2015, the Federal Trade Commission started a class action lawsuit naming TracFone and its affiliates, saying that the company cut off or slowed down "unlimited" data to its customers after they reached a fixed 30-day limit. TracFone was being sued over lying to their consumers about "unlimited" data.[29][30] This led to $40 million in consumer refunds as a result.[31]

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, LTE-G GSM September 2013
T-Mobile GSM-T GSM March 2014
Sprint CDMA-S CDMA May 2013
Verizon CDMA-V, LTE-V CDMA December 2014

See also


  1. ^ a b c d "Verizon completes TracFone Wireless, Inc. acquisition (press release)". Retrieved November 23, 2021.
  2. ^ "About Us". TracFone Wireless. Retrieved December 27, 2012.
  3. ^ "TracFone prepares a nationwide SmartSIM program". FierceWireless. Retrieved September 2, 2020.
  4. ^ a b Fletcher, Bevin (September 14, 2020). "Verizon swoops into prepaid with $6.9B Tracfone acquisition". FierceWireless.
  5. ^ Kelly, Makena (November 22, 2021). "FCC approves $6 billion Verizon-Tracfone acquisition". The Verge. Retrieved November 23, 2021.
  6. ^ a b Cohen, Howard (April 8, 2016). "TracFone CEO, Cushman School supporter F.J. Pollak dies at 53". Miami Herald.
  7. ^ Commisso, Marco (May 3, 1999). "Miami company prepares prepaid cell-phone invasion". South Florida Business Journal.
  8. ^ "Miami Company Prepares Prepaid Cell-Phone Invasion". South Florida Business Journal. Retrieved December 18, 2009.
  9. ^ "TracFone's Straight Talk starts BYOD iPhone program". FierceWireless. January 18, 2013.
  10. ^ Mihalcik, Carrie (September 14, 2020). "Verizon to acquire prepaid mobile provider Tracfone". CNET. Retrieved September 14, 2020.
  11. ^ Gagliordi, Natalie. "Verizon acquires Tracfone in $6.25 billion deal". ZDNet. Retrieved September 17, 2020.
  12. ^ Yam, Marcus (October 15, 2009). "Wal-Mart to Offer Contract-free Cell Phone Plans". Tom's Guide.
  13. ^ Bean, Daniel (February 8, 2019). "What Is Simple Mobile, and Is It Worth It?". Tom's Guide.
  14. ^ "Mexico's America Movil buys US firm Simple Mobile". Associated Press. May 10, 2012.
  15. ^ "Total Wireless Buyer's Guide". AndroidGuys. September 20, 2019.
  16. ^ "Total Wireless: Is it a Good Alternative to Verizon? [Review]". WomenWhoMoney. April 26, 2018.
  17. ^ Gibbs, Colin (October 5, 2016). "Confirmed: TracFone acquires Walmart Family Mobile from T-Mobile, deal estimated to cover 1.4M customers". FierceWireless.
  18. ^ Heater, Brian (February 19, 2013). "T-Mobile launches prepaid GoSmart Mobile service starting at $30 a month, promises 'FreeDUM'". Engadget.
  19. ^ Henry, Alan (November 10, 2013). "Five Best Pre-Paid Cellphone Carriers". Lifehacker.
  20. ^ "TracFone Fined $6m For Violating Lifeline Program Rules - Tech". LawStreetMedia. August 29, 2020.
  21. ^ "Information on Subsidized Phone Service". Federal Communications Commission.
  22. ^ Saabedra, Humberto (May 20, 2013). "America Movil to Buy Page Plus Cellular Parent Start Wireless Group".
  23. ^ Dano, Mike (May 20, 2013). "TracFone acquires Verizon MVNO Page Plus Cellular and its 1.4M customers".
  24. ^ Dano, Mike (December 10, 2012). "TracFone's Telcel America to leverage América Móvil ties with cheap calling to Mexico". FierceWireless.
  25. ^ "Telcel Customers are now a part of the SIMPLE Mobile Family". TracFone Wireless, Inc. 2020. Retrieved February 18, 2021.
  26. ^ Paonessa, Joe (January 13, 2021). "Telcel Is Being Folded Into Simple Mobile". BestMVNO. Retrieved February 18, 2021.
  27. ^ "News Northern Kentucky | The Enquirer". Retrieved December 27, 2019.
  28. ^ "TracFone Wireless Inc. Roaming Fees Class Action Settlemen". Class action news consumers can use. Retrieved February 6, 2011.
  29. ^ Farnham, Alan (July 30, 2013). "Class Action Suit Claims Walmart and TracFone Mislead Phone Customers". ABC News.
  30. ^ Morran, Chris (January 28, 2015). "TracFone To Refund $40 Million To Customers For Deceptive "Unlimited" Data Claims". Consumerist.
  31. ^ Moscaritolo, Angela (January 28, 2015). "TracFone Fined $40M for Throttling 'Unlimited' Data Plans". PCMAG. Retrieved August 29, 2020.

External links