ShareTracker Terminology: Wireless Segmentation

Continuing our “ShareTracker Terminology” series, we discuss the different wireless customer segments that our measurement platform can identify to help you understand and market towards specific audiences.

While wireline voice, broadband, and video services can offer different features, speeds and channels, customers pay for usage at the end of the month. Also, when customers use a service from a particular provider or set of providers, those companies usually own and maintain the infrastructure that connect calls, the internet and television stations to your home. In the wireless world, it’s a different story.

Wireless plans are either considered postpaid where customers pay at the end of the month, or prepaid where customers pay at the beginning of the month. Postpaid was initially the only option for wireless subscribers, requiring credit checks and signing one- or two-year contracts with the provider. It continues to be the largest wireless segment in the US. However, prepaid plans are becoming more popular with similar features and speeds at lower prices.

Wireless plans and phones can be offered by the wireless company itself, such as Verizon, AT&T, T-Mobile, Sprint or US Cellular. We consider these and similar providers to be “core” customer segments because they created their own networks and serving customers on those networks is their core or primary business.

It is also possible for a company to piggyback on core companies’ networks as a mobile virtual network operator (MVNO). These companies do not own the wireless infrastructure, such as cellular towers or associated networking hardware. Instead, they enter into agreements with the core companies to use a certain number of lines or amount of bandwidth to service their own, separate customers. The largest US MVNO company is Tracfone, and its handsets are usually sold at corner, grocery and drug stores instead of its own retail stores like the core carriers.

Another distinction that ShareTracker makes in its wireless measurements is differentiating between voice-only, data-only and voice and data customers. Smartphone customers are in the voice and data segment because their handsets can accept both phone calls and data. Older flip phones that cannot access the internet are considered voice-only lines as they only allow for calls and texts. Devices such as MiFi hubs, tablets and others that can only make data connections are examples of data-only subscriptions.

ShareTracker measures and monitors these attributes across the wireless industry in the U.S. to help categorize customers both in broad terms, like postpaid vs. prepaid, and in very specific categories, such as “postpaid core voice and data” vs. “prepaid MVNO voice-only.” Each wireless segment has different expectations and needs, with varying reactions to marketing and promotions. ShareTracker can help your company understand the movements within and between these segments, allowing your team to identify challenges and opportunities across the subsets of customers in the wireless market.


For more on how ShareTracker can help you track your performance, please contact us at!

Be sure to check out our previous posts in this series!

Terminology Series
Terminology Series
2017-04-30T11:28:06+00:00 February 24th, 2016|Categories: ShareTracker Articles|Tags: |