Dish Network has put a lot of focus on getting its postpaid brand, Boost Infinite, ready for widescale commercial distribution and it’s been delayed a number of times. But Dish executives promise they will be ramping up marketing and distribution for Boost Infinite later this year.
Dish announced its early access beta for Boost Infinite in December, offering an “exclusive early access” rate of $25/month. But the brand isn’t entirely where they want it to be just yet.
During the company’s Q1 earnings call, Dish Wireless President and COO John Swieringa said Dish has made a lot of progress getting Boost Infinite ready to go.
One of the big things that’s been a focus for them is bringing the iPhone to the Boost Infinite line-up. Boost Mobile sells the iPhone, but there’s a separate effort underway to get the iPhone on Dish's own 5G network for Boost Infinite.
Dish Chairman Charlie Ergen said the iPhone is important because it’s obviously a big part of the market share and it would be very difficult to be successful in the postpaid business without it.
Dish is pinning high hopes on the postpaid business, which is a lot more lucrative than prepaid. If fact, Ergen suggested that Dish hasn’t been as aggressive with Boost knowing that it will get better economics when it can serve more Boost customers on its own 5G network and get a better return when those customers are postpaid rather than prepaid.
Analysts at Wave7 Research recently spotted a Boost Infinite display at a store in Aurora, Colorado. It appears to be a trial, and sources are telling Wave7 that a broader launch is expected in coming months, according to Wave7 Principal Jeff Moore.
A Dish spokesperson provided the following statement to Fierce: “Currently, we sell Boost Infinite in one Boost Mobile store as a store-within-a-store concept.” The spokesperson did not provide any other information about the store.
Prepaid vs. postpaid
It sounds logical that Dish would use existing Boost Mobile stores to sell postpaid service, but Wave7's Moore said that’s not necessarily how it works.
Prepaid and postpaid are different animals and they compete in very different neighborhoods, he said. “In my opinion, Boost Infinite needs a presence in higher-end neighborhoods with a totally separate brand and I would leave Boost out of it, but it’s not my decision.”
For branding reasons, “you really need to separate the postpaid brand from the prepaid brand,” he said, noting that AT&T has Cricket, T-Mobile has Metro by T-Mobile and Verizon has multiple brands thanks to the TracFone acquisition. Historically, Sprint had its brand and Boost Mobile prepaid was separate.
The consensus of the carriers seems to be that they like to have a high-end postpaid brand and a lower end prepaid brand. “Some degrees of separation there, I think, are important,” he said.
Put another way, he said if you wanted to extend Kmart and make it a high-end brand to compete with Nordstrom, “you could call it Kmart Elite and try to compete with Nordstrom, but that would be a horrible idea,” he said. “If it were me, I’d go with Dish Wireless as my postpaid brand and not Boost Infinite, but [they] didn’t ask me.”
Earlier this week, Dish announced the addition of Dollar General and Kroger as the latest national retail partners for Boost Mobile, adding almost 20,000 new doors that carry the brand’s wireless service and devices. Boost Mobile, which has more than 4,500 dealer locations, according to Dish, also is sold through partners like Walmart, Target and Best Buy.
Dish may be cooking up some other distribution deals as well. Citing people familiar with the matter, the Wall Street Journal on Thursday reported that Dish is in talks to sell wireless plans through Amazon. That would give the telecom company a critical lifeline as it’s been hit on multiple fronts – a cyberattack among them, the report noted. Dish already uses Amazon Web Services (AWS) for cloud services.