DISH's Boost Mobile is in the midst of implementing a plethora of major changes. In early March, DISH sent out a press release stating that it reached an agreement with DraftKings to bring their sportsbook and daily fantasy experiences directly to DISH's portfolio of brands. The release stated that both SLING TV and Boost Mobile would gain access to the platform "in the future." That future appears to be right around the corner. Wave7 Research noted in its latest prepaid report that Boost Mobile is scheduled to launch its partnership with DraftKings by the end of May.
Also noted in the report is that Boost is trialing a "free SIM" direct mail offer to convert its legacy CDMA Sprint customer base over to the T-Mobile network. DISH is currently in a very public dispute with T-Mobile over T-Mobile's plans to shutdown the CDMA network that it inherited from Sprint. The network is scheduled to be shut off on January 1, 2022. DISH says that this will cause great harm to 4 million of its customers that still rely on that network for their wireless service. The company has pleaded with T-Mobile, the FCC, California regulators, and dozens of senators to get that time frame extended.
Boost Mobile's In-Store Gambling Initiative
Currently more than 20 states have passed legalized gaming laws, and in a majority of states paid fantasy sports are legal. DraftKings is not yet available in all of the states with legalized gambling. But in the states where DraftKings is allowed to operate it will facilitate gaming operations at some Boost Mobile stores. There will be contests and offers available that vary by state designed to encourage customers to place wagers. Wave7 Research notes that dealers have been told that the partnership would lead to "potential commission opportunities" for them.
Direct Mail Offer Of Free SIMs For CDMA Subs
Boost Mobile faces an uphill battle in trying to get its 4 million legacy CDMA customers converted over to the T-Mobile network before the CDMA network gets decommissioned. One effort it's undertaking to speed up the process is to trial a direct mail offer to those customers. Wave7 Research reports that letters are being sent with free SIMs to 40,000 CDMA customers with T-Mobile compatible phones. Some of those customers are being offered a free month of service if they use the SIM and switch networks while others are not. Boost Mobile is said to be currently moving over about 3,000 customers a day over from CDMA to the T-Mobile network. Dealers are being challenged to increase the number to 7,000 per day. To help with the initiative T-Mobile SIMs are being provided at no cost to both dealers and subscribers.
Boost Dealers Being Told To Source Unlocked Phones
Boost Mobile is now allowing some of its dealers to independently source unlocked phones to sell. Wave7 Research has yet to observe this in stores, but the firm has confirmed this is taking place through various sources. Previously, unlocked phones had been sold at some stores out of a back room but now Boost is allowing dealers to display the phones openly. It is not clear why Boost has opted to go this route, but one probable reason is so that Boost does not have to pay to subsidize phones.
Reports have been circulating for awhile now of a global chip shortages. The shortages are impacting everything from the manufacture of phones, to TVs, cars, and graphics cards among many other goods. This could limit the supply of phones on the market and may be another reason why Boost is telling its dealers to independently source phones.
Boost Mobile Postpaid Plans Coming Soon?
Sources have told Wave7 Research that Boost Mobile is readying the launch of postpaid wireless plans. The timeframe of the launch is unknown. However, a trademark for "Boost Mobile Infinite" was filed on April 13, 2021. Boost Mobile Infinite will be a future postpaid offering. "Infinite" may suggest the return of truly unlimited data plans to Boost Mobile. Boost Mobile's truly unlimited data plans were eliminated last year when DISH took over the brand as a result of the Sprint/T-Mobile merger. DISH Network is on track to launch its own 5G network in Q3 of 2021. Perhaps Boost Mobile Infinite will be launched then to coincide with the 5G network launch.
Increased Fees And Longer Customer Upgrade Timeline
Last month BestMVNO reported that Boost Mobile was raising its in-store payment fee from $3 to $4. Wave7 Research and YouTuber Sneed Mobile Tech have since reported additional fee hikes and changes. On 4/27 Boost increased its device upgrade activation fees to $35 on the primary line up from $25 and on secondary lines to $25 up from $15. Boost also increased the amount of time required before a customer can upgrade their device with promotional pricing going from 180 days to 270 days.
One other change made was to the per box fee that Boost charges its dealers. To support promotions, Boost charges dealers a $2 fee for each box sold. For new lines and port-ins, the fee remains at $2. For upgrades, this fee is now $6. The commission paid out to dealers for each phone upgraded is now $4 lower than before.
Boost Mobile The Disruptor?
Last September, DISH tapped Stephen Stokols to be the Executive Vice President of Boost Mobile. Stokols founded the FreedomPop and Unreal Mobile brands, both which were later sold to Red Pocket Mobile. In commentary provided to Fierce Wireless, he said he felt there was "an opportunity to come in and be a disruptor." While it may be too soon to call Boost Mobile a disruptor, they are certainly doing some things that are far outside of industry norms. At the beginning of May of 2021, Boost Mobile became the first major wireless provider to announce free telehealth services bundled with a phone plan. In March of 2021, Boost purchased Republic Wireless and also began offering a privacy focused add-on bundle to its plans. For $5.99/month customers get software that encrypts their WiFi connections as well as spam call protection and premium visual voicemail.
"Under Dish management, we are seeing enormous change from Boost Mobile. Among these changes are third-party handsets, higher fees, less affection for unlimited data, and more leeway for money transfers. And now, Boost is launching sports betting in collaboration with DraftKings." -- Jeff Moore, Principal of Wave7 Research