Boost Mobile, the prepaid arm of Sprint Nextel, is taking aim squarely at rivals MetroPCS and Leap Wireless International/Cricket with a new $50 monthly unlimited calling, text, wireless Web and walkie-talkie plan. The new, no-contract plan will be introduced Jan. 22.
Boost executives say they have some clear advantages over the two regional carriers: a nationwide network, courtesy of Nextel; the walkie-talkie service; and no extra fees. The $50 price includes taxes, roaming and other fees, so customers won’t get hit with a host of other charges. “What you see is what you get,” said President Matt Carter.
Boost did a trial of the unlimited offer in CDMA markets, but that was limited to 19 markets and was largely used as a learning tool. The plan is still available in those markets but eventually will be winding down. The focus now is on the iDEN markets, which include more than 15,000 cities compared to the combined reach of Metro and Cricket-run markets that total about 300, Boost executives say.
Boost says that Cricket has more than four times dropped calls than Boost, and MetroPCS has twice as many dropped calls than Boost. That’s based on independent third-party drive test data for the 19 common Boost/Cricket markets and the nine common Boost/MetroPCS markets within the top 50 most populated U.S. markets.
Like Sprint executives have said in the past, Boost leaders point out that iDEN is performing at its best-ever levels, and they’re not worried about having enough capacity to serve customers.
Boost’s other offers include a $1 a day plan or 10 cents a minute. Customers who find they can’t make the $50 payment can switch to one of the other plans at no additional charge.
Boost last year announced its intentions to move beyond the urban youth market that was at its core for many years and target more families and ethnic groups, as well as older clientele. Carter said the company believes the $50 plan will drive up ARPU and compete with plans from the other carriers, including T-Mobile USA, that add extra fees to the base amount. Boost also has the advantage of using the Nextel network that was designed with use by public safety in mind.
All of Boost’s handsets are from Motorola, and more new models are expected this year.