Is Prepaid Connectivity the Future of the Internet?

In the digital world, the concept of prepaid utilities is nothing new. From calling cards to mobile devices, cash-strapped customers are presented with the option to pay for a service ahead of time rather than be billed monthly for it. For those who are having difficulty juggling their finances, the prepaid route might be the smarter way to go.

While Internet connectivity might be a mandatory utility bill customers pay each month, the fact remains that in today’s difficult economy, many Americans struggle to pay for such a service.

With this in mind, cable providers are beginning to explore prepaid options that don’t involve monthly contracts. Comcast, for example, is experimenting with such a service in Delaware, Pennsylvania and New Jersey where customers spend $69.95 on the equipment necessary for connectivity and 30 days of service. Once that trial has ended, customers can choose to pay $15 for a week’s worth of service or $45 for 30 more days.

Over-the-top (OTT) providers currently leverage their competitors’ networks to deliver content, a fact which certainly diminishes their profit margins. Looking for a way to reverse that trend, OTT providers may very well look to get into the prepaid market.

Pundits have speculated as to whether prepaid services will cannibalize postpaid broadband as customers seek lower-priced products. But in the age of a personalized customer experience, it appears that the more options available to the customer, the better.