THE Anatel released the September 2020 numbers for the telephony market, and finally the postpaid cell phone segment surpassed prepaid. 50.3% of the more than 228 million mobile lines in Brazil use the service with billing after the period of use, especially at Vivo and Claro. The popularization of WhatsApp and the appearance of plans with calls to any operator boosted the category’s rise.
For operators, postpaid lines are more advantageous: the model has recurring charges and more expensive prices than prepaid, and this has a positive impact on the company’s revenue. These plans usually offer some benefits to the customer, such as increased data franchise, discount on devices or value-added services.
Control and family plan boosts postpaid
It is important to remember that the postpaid category also includes control plans, which have a higher cost than prepaid but are cheaper than pure postpaid. It is common to find a control plan in the range of R $ 50 per month, while pure postpaid usually costs more than R $ 100 per month.
Another factor that drives the growth of powders is the existence of family plans. All major operators have packages that allow you to add dependent lines to share the internet franchise and other benefits. These additional chips are considered as a powder line, which ends up contributing to the rise of this market.
Prepaid already had 82.6% of lines
The first data available on Anatel’s data portal are from February 2005; at the time, prepaid represented 80.3% of mobile lines, while postpaid had only 19.7 accesses. Vivo was the leader in the segment, with 43.8% of the lines, followed by TIM (21.1%), Claro (20.7%) and Oi (13.7%).
The biggest peak in prepaid was in January 2010, with 82.6% of mobile lines in the category. As of 2012, it is possible to see an increase in the postpaid segment, a drop in prepaid rates and an increase in disconnections of mobile lines.
It is important to remember that postpaid has already had the largest share of mobile lines, since this was the only form of collection at the time of state telephone companies. Prepaid was extremely important for democratizing access to telephony, since not everyone could spend a recurring monthly amount to maintain a cell phone.
End of “club effect” and use of data encourages change
Prepaid was very popular a few years ago due to the telephone tariff model. At that time, operators made offers with bonuses or minutes of calls to numbers from the same company. This boosted the “club effect”: several people had more than one chip to take advantage of different promotions and be able to talk to whoever used the same operator.
But the form of consumer communication has changed a lot from 2012 to here: we had the popularization of smartphones, which, connected to the internet, allow the use of applications such as WhatsApp. The adoption of the messaging platform fell in the taste of the Brazilian, who got used to messages instead of voice calls on several occasions.
The first popular plans with unlimited calls to any operator appeared only in April 2017: Claro launched a post-paid service with 5 GB of internet and free calls for R $ 129.99 per month. Later, other operators adopted the unlimited model, which later came to the control and prepaid packages.
With unlimited calls, it does not make sense to use more than one operator as it is possible to concentrate the recharge expenses in a single number. Thus, several prepaid chips were abandoned while postpaid had a high number of adhesions.
Vivo is leader in the postpaid segment
Isolating the lines with the postpaid collection model, Vivo accounts for 38.3% of the market, followed by Claro (29.3%), TIM (18.9%) and Oi (11.1%). Vivo and Claro are the operators that have more post lines than pre, while TIM and Oi continue with a majority in prepaid:
|Operator||Prepaid lines||Postpaid lines|
Claro’s purchase of Nextel was important for the company to increase its presence in the sector. In August 2020, the company sold had 3.3 million lines, of which 98.3% are in the post-paid category. Alone, Claro would have 53.7% of customers with a postpaid plan.