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Boost Mobile Offers $50 Unlimited Voice, Data Plans

As consumers continue to worry about the economy, prepaid wireless providers may have an opportunity to grow.

In an effort to woo customers away from MetroPCS and Cricket, Boost Mobile said it soon will offer $50 prepaid plans for unlimited voice, text, push-to-talk, and wireless Web.

An unlimited flat-rate plan is nothing new for prepaid carriers, but Boost said its network gives it a competitive advantage over its rivals. Boost is a subsidiary of Sprint Nextel, so it can use the CDMA network for true nationwide coverage. Additionally, Boost subscribers can use the iDEN network for unlimited push-to-talk that extends down to Baja California, Mexico.

"Wireless consumers know there's a lot of wrong out there -- activation fees, overage charges, and extra costs for services like voice mail and roaming. Unlike some other prepaid services, our new flat-rate plan will not include any of these charges; what you see is what you get," said Matt Carter, president of Boost Mobile.

Along with the prepaid monthly service, Boost users can also pay for just their airtime or for a day. The unlimited plan will begin Jan. 22, Boost said.

As the economy falters, consumers are increasingly looking for ways to cut costs. But users don't appear willing to ditch their cellular service entirely, which could open the door for the likes of Boost, Cricket, MetroPCS, and Virgin Mobile.

MetroPCS recently had the highest quarterly growth in the company's history, with 520,000 new subscribers, pushing it to 5.4 million subscribers. Cricket added about 385,000 customers in the last quarter, and Virgin Mobile added about 216,000 new subscribers.

Even with their recent gains, the prepaid providers have a long way to go to catch up to the likes of AT&T, Sprint, T-Mobile, and Verizon Wireless. One major hurdle is that the large carriers get the latest handsets like the iPhone 3G, and one study said these can be a major draw, even to cost-conscious customers.

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