Sprint prepay plan ups the ante in US market

Boost Mobile, Sprint Nextel's prepaid mobile unit, launched a $50-a-month nationwide unlimited calling plan yesterday. This immediately raised fears of a US price war and sent shares of rivals Leap Wireless and MetroPCS Communications tumbling, the Financial Times  reports.

Boost will be available nationwide and offer unlimited voice, text and web access and, unlike the regional, US$60, unlimited plans offered by Boost's rivals, has no roaming charges.

Boost believes the new offering will be attractive to its existing customers and those of rival carriers, including those whose customers base is predominantly on monthly contracts such as Verizon Wireless, AT&T's Mobile and T-Mobile USA.

Unlike most of the rest of the world, prepaid services have never played a key role in the US mobile market, but this might be about to change as consumers look at ways of keeping their phone bills down.