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Boost Mobile Seeks Retail Expansion

An expanded retail presence could put Boost on a similar growth pattern as AT&T and Verizon Wireless.
Boost Mobile is looking to open 50 more retail stores in order to capitalize on the success of its unlimited prepaid plans.

Boost recently implemented a no-contract $50 plan that gives customers unlimited voice, text, mobile Web, and push-to-talk services. The offer has been a hit, as Boost has gained 764,000 new customers in the eight weeks since the plan was rolled out.

The prepaid carrier has struggled with the influx of customers, though, and Boost users have reported problems with delayed text messages. The company said the issue has been fixed and insists there's plenty of capacity for more users on its iDEN network.

An expanded retail presence could potentially add up to a million new customers next quarter, which would put Boost on a similar growth pattern as AT&T and Verizon Wireless, industry watchers said.

"What's important to us is street visibility," Boost president Matt Carter told Reuters. "We think it's going to help us quite a lot."

The success of Boost's unlimited plan may lead to price competition among prepaid rivals such as MetroPCS, Virgin Mobile, and Cricket. Carter said his company would not cut its prices further regardless of what its competitors do. Many customers see cellular service as a necessity, and the uncertain economic climate creates a significant growth opportunity for the prepaid providers.

For parent company Sprint Nextel, the success of Boost is somewhat of a mixed blessing. Sprint lost more than 1.2 million contract customers last quarter, so any growth area is appreciated. But Boost subscribers do not generate as much revenue as users on long-term contracts, and it's unclear how the $50 unlimited plans will impact Sprint's margins.


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