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Boost Mobile iDEN Service Ending June 30 - Options for Users

It's no secret that Boost Mobile iDEN service is shutting down June 30, 2013. For months Boost has been bombarding iDEN customers with nearly daily texts, emails, voicemails and precall recorded messages warning of them of the impending shutdown .

Now it's crunch time and Boost has added even more incentives to get iDEN users to switch to the CDMA network. Here's a timeline of important dates in the iDEN shutdown process.
  • Starting May 29, Boost IDEN monthly plan users will not be able to renew their plan when it expires. On the plan expiration date, the account will become suspended. Customers may visit a Boost store or call Boost Customer Care to switch to CDMA service. Boost Customer service can also temporarily reactivate an  iDEN account on the Pay as You Go Plan.
  • Starting June 15, it will no longer be possible to add money to any Boost iDEN account.
  • 12:01 AM, June 30, 2013, the Sprint iDEN network will shut down. Boost iDEN phones will stop working and any Boost customers who haven't switched to CDMA will lose their phone numbers.
Boost is doing a good job of letting customers know the service is ending and that they need to switch. The messages I've seen tell customers that they can visit a Boost dealer who will give them a free phone and transfer their iDEN service, including the phone number, balance and expiration date to Boost Mobile's CDMA based service.

Getting a free phone and having a dealer transferring accounts is a good choice for most users, but there other options that will be better for some. Here's a complete list of all the ways you can switch from Boost iDEN service to something else.

1) Free phone and service transfer at a Boost dealer: This offer is available at independent Boost Mobile dealers only, not online or at national retailers like BestBuy, Radio Shack, Costco or Target. Use the dealer locator in the top right corner of the boostmobile.com web site find  a dealer.

The free phone choices are the Samsung Factor, Kyocera Coast, Samsung Array, Sanyo Innuendo, Kyocera Milano, LG Rumor Reflex, BlackBerry 9310, Kyocera Hydro, Samsung Galaxy Prevail and Samsung Transform Ultra. Instead of one of the free phones you can also get a $100 discount off the price of  the Samsung Galaxy Rush, ZTE Warp Sequent, ZTE Force, LG Marquee, LG Venice or the Samsung Galaxy SII.

The free and discounted phone offer is only good on phones that are in stock at the dealer, there are no rainchecks.  The customer must pay applicable local taxes on the full price of the free or discounted phone. Some dealers also charge an activation fee. I recommend calling ahead to verify that the dealer is participating in the plan, whether the phone you want is in stock and if there is an activation fee. As soon as the dealer transfers service the iDEN phone will stop working. Do not throw it away or give it to the dealer! The Boost Buyback Program will give you an account credit of $25 or more for your old iDEN phone. See below for details.

2) Free phone by calling Customer Care:  Boost Mobile will send current iDEN customers a free CDMA phone if they call 877-438-8643 and ask. There are no costs or fees with this option but you don't get a choice of phones and will likely receive a refurbished  basic phone. You get to keep your old iDEN phone and can use the Boost Buy Back Program to get $25 or more for it.

3) Sprint As You Go Direct Connect Offer: None of the Boost CDMA phones support Sprint's Direct Connect walkie-talkie service. Although there are several Android walkie-talkie apps available, none of the ones that work on Boost Android phones and connect with Sprint Direct Connect phones.

Sprint Direct Connect is normally only available to postpaid customers. But Sprint is allowing Boost iDEN customers to activate a Sprint Direct Connect phone on the Sprint As You Go prepaid plan. This offer requires purchase of a $99 Sprint Direct Connect phone and activate it on the $50/month Sprint As You Go plan together with a $5/month Direct Connect add-on fee and $11-$20/month in taxes and fees. This offer is only available by calling 1-800-Sprint1 and is only available to Boost iDEN customers.

4) Refund: Boost iDEN customers who do not switch their service to CDMA or port their number to another operator will be able to get their unused Boost account balance refunded by calling Boost Customer Care at 877-438-8643 after June 29.

There are many benefits to switching from iDEN to CDMA including better overall coverage, much faster data and a larger selection of more of modern phones. You will also pay less for CDMA service and can get some money for your old iDEN phone. Here's how.

Plan Price Reduction: Customers switching to CDMA will pay less for their service. On November 7, 2012 Boost raised the price of iDEN monthly plans by $5/month and increased pay as you go prices from 20¢ (10¢ for grandfathered customers) to 25c/minute and text. Switching to CDMA will bring plan pricing back to pre November levels. The price reduction is automatic and seamless for monthly and 20¢ pay as you go customers. There seems to be some question as to whether grandfathered iDEN users who were paying 10¢/minute before November are supposed to get their old 10¢ rate back. The Boost iDEN Migration Frequently Asked Questions page states that:

"...all iDEN price plan rates were increased in Nov. 2012. If you switch to a CDMA phone that operates on a comparable plan on the Nationwide Sprint Network (CDMA), you will no longer be subject to the increase."

Which certainly sounds like the grandfathered users should get their pre-November 10¢ rate back when they switch to CDMA. But it won't happen automatically. I migrated a grandfathered iDEN pay as you go account to CDMA last month. After the switch I saw that I was being charged 20¢ per minute and text rather than the grandfathered 10¢ rate. I called Boost and the first rep I spoke to said the system would not let him switch to the grandfathered rate. I asked to speak to a supervisor who also initially refused to give me the 10¢ rate until I mentioned that the Boost website and texts I had received from Boost  said that switching to CDMA would rollback the November price increases. Once I said that magic phrase the supervisor immediately switched my account to the 10¢ rate.

Get $25 or $30 for Your Old iDEN Phone: Boost has a Mobile Buyback program that will give you cash for your old phone. Boost's buyback price for almost all iDEN phones is $5. But if you migrate a Boost iDEN number to CDMA and return an iDEN phone to Boost before June 30, you get an extra $25 Boost account credit. It's a pretty easy process and Boost gives you a prepaid shipping label for sending the old phone back. Visit buyback.boostmobile.com to get started.

Sources: BoostMobile, HyperLink

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  1. Do you know if Sprint eventually plans to offer its Direct Connect service to its Virgin and Boost brands? I really loved the old IDEN network. It was slow as molasses for data but great for voice and direct connect. I used to get signals out in the middle of nowhere.

    1. I haven't heard anything about a Boost CDMA Direct Connect option. Maybe someday, but it looks like Sprint currently wants to restrict PTT to postpaid.

  2. At&T has a new option to target remaining iDEN customers, a PTT iPhone app:

    1. Would this be for it's postpaid customers only or could GoPhone users take advantage?

  3. Who uses old PTT any more? Internet so slow!!! If you still need it there is a few apps that you can use for free if you really need to use walkie-talkie.

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