Boost Customers Suffer Text Message Delays

It appears Boost Mobile’s new $50 unlimited everything plan has become a victim of its own success. Customers using the prepaid wireless service owned by Sprint Nextel have been experiencing delays in receiving text messages lately. According to reports, customers and dealers have complained that text messages often arrive hours late, sometimes in the middle of the night. One customer complained to an AP reporter saying, "I got five text messages at 4 o'clock in the morning that I sent myself nine hours before."

A Boost representative has acknowledged the problem and said the text delays have lasted anywhere from a few minutes to a few hours. The problems have been an issue since March. Most of the delays have occurred during peak hours, which are from 2 p.m. EDT to about 10 p.m. EDT. John Votava, Boost's spokesman, said the company has been working "day and night" to fix the problems and aims to have the system "much improved" by next week.

Boost first offered its unlimited monthly service on January 22nd. The $50 service doesn’t require a contract and offers unlimited voice, SMS and MMS messaging, and Web browsing. The service has proven to be quite successful. So successful, in fact, that Votava said Boost was a bit overwhelmed by the number of people signing up for the unlimited service.

Boost uses the Nextel portion of Sprint’s network for its service. Nextel uses iDEN technology, which is different from Sprint’s PCS network which operates on CDMA. Nextel users have complained of occasionally delayed text messaging for years, but Votava denied that there are long-standing problems with the Nextel network and blamed the texting problems on the influx of new customers.

Although several customers are upset and frustrated with the service, many have said they won’t drop Boost because of its affordable service. At $50/month, the service is indeed a bargain, but Boost will need to fix the problem if it expects to continue to compete with other low-cost providers such as MetroPCS Communications and Leap Wireless International. These two regional carriers have offered unlimited calling for roughly $50 per month in some areas. In recent months, these two carriers have moved into big cities in the Northeast, greatly increasing their possible customers. After Boost’s announcement in January, Virgin Mobile followed up with its own $50 all-you-can-eat prepaid plan and T-Mobile started offering long-term customers a similar plan.