TracFone Wireless

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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.[4] TracFone Wireless had 25.668 million subscribers in 2015.


On September 14, 2020 Verizon announced intent to acquire TracFone Wireless, Inc. from Mexico-based América Móvil in a deal worth up to $6.9 billion.

"TracFone Wireless, Inc., as the largest wireless reseller in the U.S. with prepaid brands including Straight Talk, has around 21 million subscribers. More than 13 million of those already ride on Verizon’s LTE network. In 2019, TracFone generated about $8.1 billion in revenue.

Expected to close in the second half of 2021, the transaction includes $3.125 billion both in cash and Verizon common stock. It also includes up to $650 million in future cash consideration based on certain performance benchmarks and commercial agreements. TracFone Wireless, Inc.'s 850 employees will join Verizon as part of the deal." [5]

TracFone Wireless, Inc. 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.[6] 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.[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, expected to be completed by the end of 2021.[10][11]

Other brands and subsidiaries[edit]

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

Straight Talk[edit]

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[edit]

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[edit]

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[edit]

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[edit]

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[edit]

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]

Telcel América[edit]

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

Class actions[edit]

Roaming and repair issues – 2007[edit]

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.[25][26] 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 by TracFone – 2015[edit]

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.[27][28] This led to $40 million in consumer refunds as a result.[29]

Networks and coverage[edit]

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[edit]


  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. ^ "TracFone prepares a nationwide SmartSIM program". FierceWireless. Retrieved September 2, 2020.
  5. ^ Fletcher, Bevin (September 14, 2020). "Verizon swoops into prepaid with $6.9B Tracfone acquisition". FierceWireless.
  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. ^ "News Northern Kentucky | The Enquirer". Retrieved December 27, 2019.
  26. ^ "TracFone Wireless Inc. Roaming Fees Class Action Settlemen". Class action news consumers can use. Retrieved February 6, 2011.
  27. ^ Farnham, Alan (July 30, 2013). "Class Action Suit Claims Walmart and TracFone Mislead Phone Customers". ABC News.
  28. ^ Morran, Chris (January 28, 2015). "TracFone To Refund $40 Million To Customers For Deceptive "Unlimited" Data Claims". Consumerist.
  29. ^ Moscaritolo, Angela (January 28, 2015). "TracFone Fined $40M for Throttling 'Unlimited' Data Plans". PCMAG. Retrieved August 29, 2020.

External links[edit]