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Sprint May Merge Boost and Virgin Mobile

Techcrunch is reporting that according to an unnamed source "close to the company", Sprint is planning to merge Virgin Mobile and Boost Mobile into a new brand called "Sprint Freedom". The change is supposed to occur in the first quarter of 2014, which ends March 31.

There's no word on what will happen with plans and phone offerings but I suspect that there will be changes. Boost and Virgin were once innovators and the low price leaders in the prepaid market but they have stagnated and the rest of the industry has passed them by.

In August Japan's SoftBank acquired a majority interest in Sprint which means that SoftBank CEO Masayoshi Son is now calling the shots at Sprint. Son has a reputation for turning companies around by fixing technical and business process issues while simultaneously cutting prices. The prepaid re-branding  could be the beginning of Sprint's makeover by SoftBank.

I suspect that Sprint Freedom will offer lower plan prices. I'm also hoping to see an end to the ban on using Sprint branded devices on prepaid. Thanks to GSM operators and MVNOs promoting the ability to use your existing phone with their services, mainstream customers have come to expect that they should be able to use any technically compatible phone on any operator. Sprint's byzantine rules restricting handsets to specific Sprint brands and plans are increasingly recognized as anti-customer and I believe they have put the company at a competitive disadvantage.


34 comments:

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  1. Can FreedomPop sue them for brand name likeness?

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  2. Sprint should of been merged the two. Think how much dollars they are wasting, advertising,promoting, and marketing them individually; when they could just market one brand and make that one prepaid company have all the customers and plans of both brands in one; thus making it one stronger prepaid company. I think T-mobile US should merge GoSmartMobile and MetroPcs together keeping MetroPcs name.

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    1. They target different markets, I dint understand people that always think merging is a good thing.

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    2. @Amonymous, Sprint is merging them so they must believe its a good thing.

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    3. @anonymous I agree with you! they do target 2 different demographics and I'm glad that you understand that!

      @5864 - The reason that they are doing this is because they are(at this point) not extracting the amount of money that they SHOULD be from BOTH entities. WHICH is why is makes sense at this point to merge the two. The growing MVNO's have made the market FLOODED for companies like boost, virgin, metro...ect

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  3. What's going to happen to the dealers

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    1. No one knows but they will probably become Sprint Freedom dealers. Lots of dealers sell both Boost and Virgin currently. Changing signage and displays is going to be costly.

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    2. at up to 5k per signage YUP!

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  4. The biggest problem with BOTH Boost & VM is that they employ an adaptive protocol to limit speed of video downloads, thus rendering the video unwatchable due to high pixelation. Then they charge $15 a month for mobile hotspot (but they threw it another 1 GB of data) on certain handsets.

    I had VM for 2+ years with Moto Triumph for $25 a month; call quality was decent (it's much better on my current Verizon iPhone); free text was a boon; and their 3G data speeds was a joke. I never could hit the monthly 2.5 GB soft cap due to frustration factor of the slow 3G speeds: typically 300 - 600 kbps download speeds. I left VM because life is too short to wait for slow mobile bandwidth.

    Sprint needs to curtail the number of handsets they sell on Boost & VM -- two premium handsets ($350 and higher), two mid-range handsets ($200 - $250), and 2 low-end devices (about $100) -- and maybe 1 or 2 feature phones. You look at what VM tried to do with Samsung handsets and it just didn't work. The handsets were overpriced, and VM tried to move inventory with these silly one day promotions.

    If Sprint is serious in competing in the prepaid market, they should play to their strengths: (a) prepaid mobile broadband and (b) customer loyalty with shrinkage. Have simple plans, fair prices on handsets, and decent customer service.

    You look at Verizon Wireless prepaid -- they get it. They have limited devices, only 2 plans (3 if you include the Walmart special) for smartphone users, and an awesome website to check your account. Plus you could buy "top-up" cards on a discounted basis when it goes on sale at Targets.

    In summary, Sprint needs to simplify, play to their strengths, eliminate adaptive protocol, allow for free mobile hotspot sharing. Basically, give customers what they want.

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    1. "You look at Verizon Wireless prepaid -- they get it. They have limited devices..."

      Any postpaid phone can go on VZ prepaid, as far as I know.

      I don't think you can do the reverse until the prepaid phone has been active for 6 months.

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    2. I have yet to seem any other carrier who subsides their prepaid phones as much as virgin mobile does. $470 for the latest iphone? $25 for unlimited data? unlimited everything with shrinkage? 3g is speed is slow, but not to the point it not usable. you do get what you paid for

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  5. "Boost and Virgin were once innovators and the low price leaders in the prepaid market but they have stagnated and the rest of the industry has passed them by."

    What do you base that on?

    Who else gives you 300 minutes, unlimited text and data throttled at 2.5GB for $35? Who else gives you unlimited everything for $55 shrinking down to $40 after 18 months?

    Many plans have come out in the $45-50 range but none below, that I know of.

    TMo's $30 5GB plan has a paltry 100 minutes. I'd be all over it if it had 300 minutes.

    So tell me, how have others passed them by? I can see that others may have caught up.

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    1. are you living under a rock? one of many is Republic Wireless $25 all you can eat..
      All info provided on this great website just search..

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    2. $30 H2O: unlimited voice minutes, unlimited texts, 500meg data. That's better than $35 for me when need only maybe 200meg data and usually only on wifi, but really need more than 300 minutes. Sprint has to adjust the now-behind-others Boost/Virgin when that is merged.

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    3. Download the vonage app and you will get 3000 free outgoing minutes for any android or ios iphone. Outgoing calls will be made via voip and will not count agianst you. Caller ID will even display your phone number.

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    4. "are you living under a rock? one of many is Republic Wireless $25 all you can eat..
      All info provided on this great website just search.."

      I will give you RW as the only thing that comes close. As it is, that $25 plan has been out for about a month, is 3g only and requires you to purchase a $300 handset. It took them forever to implement MMS and (as of right now) you can't sell your handset for someone to re-activate.

      Can you name another service that has "passed them by"? That's really what I am looking for.

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    5. "$30 H2O: unlimited voice minutes, unlimited texts, 500meg data. That's better than $35 for me when need only maybe 200meg data and usually only on wifi, but really need more than 300 minutes."

      Gotcha. That plan is a better fit for you since you need more than 300 minutes. In turn, some people think the 100 minutes of the TMo $30 5GB plan is enough.

      There are different strokes for different strokes, but I don't think that counts as "passing them by"

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    6. Up until around 2011 Boost Mobile and Virgin Mobile had a long history of disruptive price-cutting innovation. Some of the highlights:
      - 2001 Boost launched $1/day unlimited walkie-talkie (charged only on the days you used it) on iDEN. It was the 1st unlimited prepaid service anywhere.
      - 2006 Boost launched $50/month Unlimited talk, text and data. It's the 1st prepaid unlimited everything plan
      - 2008 Boost cuts pay as you go prices to an industry leading 10¢ per minute or text
      - 2010 Boost Shrinkage launches
      - 2010 Virgin Mobile launches $25/month Beyond Talk Plan with 300 minutes, unlimited messaging and unlimited un-throttled data.
      - 2010 Virgin launches its first Android phones and allows them on the $25 and up plans
      - 2010 Virgin launches unlimited mobile broadband for $40/month

      But around 2011, innovation slows and SPG starts raising prices, capping data and abandoning high value, lower margin market segments
      - 2011 Boost doubles pay as you go pricing
      - 2011 Virgin raises Beyond Talk plan prices to $35 and up
      - 2011 Boost and Virgin raise airtime PIN wholesale prices causing Callingmart, etc to end discounts
      - 2012 Boost increases daily plan price from $2 to $3 making it a 50% tax on users too poor to pay for a whole month at a time
      - 2012 Virgin implements 2.5 GB data soft cap
      - 2013 Boost eliminates $45 unlimited talk and text plan
      - 2013 Boost and Virgin kill pay as you go plans
      - 2013 Boost implements 2.5 GB soft cap
      - 2013 Boost $10 and Virgin $15 tethering add-ons no longer available on new phone releases
      - 2013 Virgin Mobile hard-caps mobile broadband plans

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    7. "There are different strokes for different strokes, but I don't think that counts as 'passing them by'"

      my goodness. really hate these my-cell-phone-plan-is-better-than-your-cell-phone discissions.

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  6. I own some stores and this is awesome

    I wonder if we going to carry the Nextel brand as well keep me posted

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  7. Red Pocket's new Sprint arm has byosd that's superior to Boost mobile's yet it has a $35 unlimited text/data with a lte cap of 4 gigs vs Virgin's 2.5 gig before throttling. and 300 minutes.

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  8. I would have considered Boost or Virgin, were it not for the fact that they 1) don't allow BYO(S)D, 2) don't care to sell any current high end phone models (besides the iPhone, which they sell ONLY because Sprint desperately needed to use every means at its disposal to help it meet its volume commitment to Apple), 3) have poor customer service, and 4) don't allow any roaming.

    Truth is, many Sprint MVNOs now have better offerings than Boost/VM, with BYO(S)D (to the fullest extent that Sprint allows it, and even with the BYOD blacklist, it's still better than what Boost/VM offer), roaming (Ting, for example, at least has voice roaming, which Boost/VM do not), better customer service (Ting, for example, has no-hold CS based in Canada, with people that speak intelligible English), and all for a price that is usually at least as good as Boost/VM. Why would ANYONE consider Boost or VM, given this?

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    1. Virgin boost phones and airtime are available everywhere, Wal-Mart, target for example, remember we are NOT the average customer.

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    2. blah. virgin is "average" now. lol

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    3. Sprint MVNO's will no longer BYOD handsets that are less than one year old. Ting and a few other MVNOs who sell new handsets that are fullfilled by Sprint will let you activate a newly purchased one (but most MVNOs don't sell flagship devices).

      I use about 1.5GB and 250 minutes per month. That usage $35 on VM and would be $57 plus tax on Ting. I'll settle for a year old handset in exchange for that difference in price.

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  9. VM/Boost have marketing and PR. Other then that and the iphone, any number of Sprint byosd mvnos have an edge on them.

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  10. I'm a former Boost and Virgin Mobile customer. You people keep talking about plans but I left Boost and Virgin Mobile because there coverage sucked in and out of my local city limits. I left for Straight Talk to use the Verizon prepaid network. My next phone will be the Moto G on Verizon Prepaid. It's all about coverage for most people.

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  11. I never understood why Boost and VM coexisted for so long. A simple 5 minutes of research would show they are basically the same. The phone selection equally sucks, they limit bandwidth on video streaming, and worse of all no roaming. Sprint roaming on VZ is the only way anyone has coverage out side of a metro area. They're a lot of us in rural areas.

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  12. Have you heard anything else on the merger Dennis?

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    1. Nothing, I suspect it's not going to happen.

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  13. Why pay Virgin (Branson) a royalty anyway? It's not like it's some Gold Plated brand. Boost still has that ghetto, "where you at" reputation.
    Why pay redundant marketing and administrative costs and have devices unique to each brand?

    Sprint is allegedly rolling out "Sprint Prepaid" which will be sold through corporate stores and getting rid of that pathetic "As You Go" offering.
    Maybe Sprint Freedom will be marketed in the big box stores and current dealers.

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