Consumer Tech Radar

About this Blog: Bill Snyder analyzes the consumer technologies--gadgets, software, electronics, and everything else--that matter to everyday techies and businesspeople, and explains why these technologies and products should be on your radar -- or not.

Consumer Tech Radar

What You Should Know About Boost Mobile's New 'Unlimited' 4G Plan

Boost Mobile is offering a very competitive price for 4G LTE data, but the fine print says streaming video will be slow and you’ll be throttled back after 2.5GB, according to CIO.com blogger Bill Snyder.

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Boost Mobile today announced a deal that includes “unlimited” 4G LTE data at a very low price. However, the offer has a number of significant “gotchas.”

Let’s start with the deal. Boost Mobile, a pre-paid mobile phone service, will give you “unlimited” talk, text and data for just $35 a month for six months – no contract required. But you have to buy a phone from Boost or one of the company’s retail partners, including Best Buy or Radio Shack.

At the end of six months, your bill goes up to $50 a month. But you can knock that down to $40 if you pay on time for a year. You have until the end of March to sign up for this deal.

Boost is owned by Sprint and its phones will run on the Sprint network, including its LTE network, where available. Sprint now claims that it delivers LTE in more than 300 markets in the United States.

Boost offers a good selection of smartphones, including Apples iPhone 5s and 5c, along with Samsung’s Galaxy S3 and other flavors of Android.

So far so good. But now let’s look at the fine print, and when I say fine print I mean it, because some of those conditions are in teeny tiny type on the company’s website. Unlimited data doesn’t exactly mean unlimited – what you get is 2.5GB. After that, it appears that you’ll be throttled down to a slower speed. That’s not too bad; 2.5GB is quite a bit of data, though it bugs me when carriers say they offer unlimited amounts of data when they don’t really.

However, there’s a more annoying catch down there in the squint zone: When you stream videos, you’ll be limited to 3G speeds. Depending on the quality of the video you might not get very smooth playback.  

Then there’s the issue of where you can get LTE. When Sprint says it offers the speedy service in more than 300 markets, that’s technically true. But just because it offers the service in the market, that doesn’t mean every neighborhood can access it.

Here in San Francisco, for example, the service is available in parts of the city, but not in my neighborhood, according to Sprint’s service map. That could certainly change, but if you’re interested in Boost Mobile, or Sprint for that matter, you should check to see if you’ll be able to access that service from your home or workplace.

This could be a good deal for someone on a budget or a student, particularly if you choose one of the cheaper phones.

Pre-paid mobile phone services are becoming more common and have really improved over the last year or so.


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