Pre-Paid Won't Give Tiered Pricing a Boost

Consumers disgruntled about the Tier 1 operators' moving to tiered pricing in the U.S. have another option in the pre-paid players. Boost Mobile , for one, has no plans to move away from unlimited plans.

The pre-paid operator continues to monitor tiered pricing for data but is doing everything it can to protect its $50 unlimited, all-inclusive pricing structure, says Boost Vice President Andre Smith.

"At this point, we feel from a customer standpoint that $50 is the right place to be without tiers -- truly unlimited data, voice and text on the Sprint Corp. (NYSE: S) nationwide network," Smith says.

Smith didn't give a guaranteed "no" on tiered pricing, but he said Boost would do what it takes to maintain a low, all-in price structure. That includes working with OEM and operating system vendors to figure out how to best utilize the network to consume less data, as well as finding ways to keep heavy data-using customers in line.

"We have to challenge the folks that develop operating systems [to ask], is there a better way to do that? It doesn't fall on us to charge the customers more, or on us to tell customers that once they hit a certain limit, we'll cut [their usage] or throttle speeds," Smith says. "That's not the answer necessarily."

It is an answer, he adds, but Boost, like Sprint's other pre-paid brands, is focused on being a customer advocate for the value-minded, potentially less data-hogging, customer. Its customers wouldn't expect caps. (See Sprint Segments Its Prepaid Subscribers .)

Boost's larger competitors, AT&T Inc. (NYSE: T) and T-Mobile US Inc. , have made the switch to data tiers, and Verizon Wireless will join them next month. Boost's $50 unlimited plan will put it around the same level as Verizon's most expensive plan, expected to run $50, which is capped at 5GB. (See Verizon Sheds a Tier for Unlimited Data.)

Pre-paid competitor MetroPCS Inc. (NYSE: PCS) is also sticking with unlimited plans but is moving to Long Term Evolution (LTE), which could make its the "unlimited" part harder to maintain. Boost has no plans for 4G at this point but will consider it with Sprint, Smith says. (See MetroPCS Continues 4G Price War and Leap Revamps Prepaid With Tiered Data.)

— Sarah Reedy, Senior Reporter, Light Reading Mobile

xinterson 12/5/2012 | 4:59:46 PM
re: Pre-Paid Won't Give Tiered Pricing a Boost

The move on Boost's behalf to focus more on prepaid small-time consumers is very promising as far as this senior is concerned. For too long now, I've only been confronted with the one nationwide prepaid option; tracfone's svc brand for seniors. Seemingly every johnny, and his partner providing wireless service, have only been interested in providing unlimited plans, along with more data options - non of which is of any interest to seniors. Maybe Boost, unlike the other major providers, will recognize this gap in the market.

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