Dish-owned Boost Mobile has been talking about its plans to launch a new postpaid service to rival the big three US carriers for months. On Wednesday, it’s finally taking the next step, announcing that it’s opening up a beta program for its Boost Infinite service.
The new service will run $25 per month and include unlimited talk, text and 30GB of high-speed data (after which you are slowed down to “3G speeds”). If that sounds familiar, it should, as Boost has been offering a similar plan to new users who switch to its Boost Mobile prepaid brand for nearly a year.
The new Infinite beta will run until the end of December, with Dish planning a more widespread launch of the service for some time in the first quarter of 2023.
Dish is not disclosing how many people it will accept into the beta, but it appears confident it will hit the metrics it has set for itself internally. “We have a number that we’re looking at … we should be hitting it around the end of the year,” Stephen Stokols, executive vice president of retail wireless for Dish Wireless, tells CNET. “It may adjust based on the traction we get. But again, we’re looking to bring on enough users to really run water through the pipe to understand what’s working, what’s not.”
Stokols notes that the company has had more people expressing interest in the beta than the amount of available “spaces” that Dish has allotted for its trial. “So from a beta perspective, we’re going to be oversubscribed, I’m highly confident of that.”
Three networks, one provider
Long known as a satellite TV provider, Dish has spent years and billions of dollars acquiring valuable wireless spectrum and in 2020 purchased the divested Boost Mobile brand during T-Mobile’s merger with Sprint. That deal, which was brokered in part by the Department of Justice, also granted Dish the ability to use T-Mobile’s 5G network for seven years while it builds out its own service.
Last year the company reached a deal with AT&T to allow Dish users to utilize AT&T’s network as well while Dish continued building out its own network. The company began offering its own 5G service in 120 cities, including Las Vegas, Dallas and Nashville, earlier this year. Dish is aiming to cover 70% of the US with its service by June 14, 2023, or it risks paying billions in penalties as well as losing spectrum.
In June the company also reached a new agreement with T-Mobile to continue using its network, giving Dish’s wireless users the ability to get service from AT&T, T-Mobile and Dish’s own network with one plan. That “three networks” approach is a big part of Dish’s pitch, with the company’s early sign-up page touting the “power of three networks” as it tries to lure subscribers.
For the beta, Boost Infinite users will be using either T-Mobile or AT&T’s respective networks. But the carrier’s goal for the service in the first quarter is to have users dynamically switch between all three options depending on which offers the best experience where they are. If you have a device that doesn’t support Dish’s network (which uses a frequency known as “Band 70” that is largely lacking in devices outside the latest iPhone 14 line), Stokols says it will switch between AT&T and T-Mobile’s networks.
“It’s still by definition better off in most cases than where you are today,” he says. “In all cases, because T-Mobile plus AT&T is better than just T-Mobile, or just AT&T or just Verizon.”
Boost is also stressing its price, which for a single line at $25 for unlimited would be drastically cheaper than any plan offered by the major three carriers. “We’re going right after the actual core, commodity service that people are using — voice, text and data — and try to strip away all the bullshit and give you a price that’s 50% or more less than what you are paying today,” Stokols says.
There are, however, no perks like free streaming services included with Boost Infinite’s plan, and it is unclear what deals the provider will offer for new devices. The beta will also be lacking any type of family plans, which brings other carriers’ pricing closer to Boost’s. Stokols says that family plans are “on the roadmap.”
As for launching a new brand amid growing economic concerns, the Dish executive sees it as an opportunity. The company is throwing in price guarantees to help allay concerns that prices will go up. “We’re throwing that in because a part of what we’re going to be positioning against is inflation,” Stokols says.
“We’re actually playing into the fact that prices are going up, but not ours, you get the price forever.”
Update, 7:57 a.m. PT: Having earlier said it would offer 35GB of high-speed data, Boost has amended the figure to 30GB.