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What Network Does Boost Mobile Use?

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If you’re one of Boost Mobile’s 7.5 million customers, you may not be aware of the fact that Boost Mobile doesn’t actually own any cell towers, or have its own network. Instead, Boost Mobile primarily uses T-Mobile’s cell towers and network.

How does that work, exactly? Boost Mobile is an MVNO, or a mobile virtual network operator. As you might imagine, it’s pretty pricey to run and maintain a whole cell tower network. Many smaller companies, rather than starting from scratch, lease network capacity from existing carrier companies like Verizon, T-Mobile, and AT&T. A lot of the budget cell companies you’ve heard of, like Mint Mobile and Visible, are MVNOs. 

The business model is simple: Boost Mobile runs a tight ship by leasing network capacity from T-Mobile instead of building and maintaining a network. As a customer of Boost Mobile, you get those savings passed onto you, letting you save money on your monthly phone bill.

Is there any catch or hidden cost? We cover everything else you need to know about Boost Mobile’s coverage below. 

What Towers Does Boost Mobile Use?

The short answer: Boost Mobile uses T-Mobile’s towers to provide top-notch 5G and 4G LTE coverage to their customers. Due to a long series of mergers and sales, some Boost Mobile customers may use AT&T or Dish networks for coverage, but most existing customers and all new customers will use T-Mobile’s 4G and 5G networks.

Boost Mobile Coverage

You might worry that the coverage quality is one of the hidden costs of using an MVNO like Boost Mobile. In fact, Boost Mobile’s coverage is exactly as good as T-Mobile’s coverage. T-Mobile ranks number one in the US for 5G coverage, and its 4G coverage is comprehensive, too, covering 99% of Americans. 

Of course, you don’t want to find out you’re in the 1% of Americans that Boost Mobile doesn’t cover with 4G at least. That’s why it’s important to check T-Mobile’s coverage map to make sure you won’t get stuck with a great deal – but no bars. 

We recommend checking the map closely to see if your workplace and home are both covered, as well as asking friends and neighbors who are on T-Mobile or Boost Mobile if they experience good network coverage. 

What Is an MVNO?

It can sometimes seem like you need a glossary to keep track of all the carrier-related acronyms and jargon. Let’s break this one down.

What is an MVNO? As we briefly outlined above, Boost Mobile is an example of a MVNO which stands for mobile virtual network operator. Meanwhile, the Big Three (AT&T, T-Mobile and Verizon) are mobile network operators, with no virtual. In short, MVNOs don’t own any towers – they rent from existing carriers.

This is often a big price differentiator between Big Three carriers like AT&T, Verizon, and T-Mobile, and MVNOs like Boost Mobile. Often you can get a great deal with an MVNO because they keep costs low by renting towers rather than building and maintaining their own network. 

The downside? When MVNO premium data runs out, you’re typically left with sloth-like data speeds. At Boost Mobile, for example, when you run out of premium data, your speeds are 512 Kbps. Even on “unlimited” data plans, Boost Mobile only gives you 30 GB of premium 5G/4G data, and then you get slowed down for the rest of the billing period. It’s still unlimited data, but it’s so slow as to be virtually unusable.

The other trade-off between an MVNO versus a Big Three carrier is that cell phone plans from MVNOs like Boost Mobile are normally pretty bare bones. You get data, unlimited talk and text, but not much else. No bundled perks, less or no hotspot data, and fewer travel benefits. Not to mention, if you’re the kind of person who wants the latest iPhone or Android, you should know that the best phone deals on new phones are typically reserved for the Big Three. 

If you want to find the best phone deals right now, try our free, unbiased Phone Deal Finder below – in just a few steps, we’ll search through thousands of cell phone deals to find the best ones for you.

Find the Best Phone Deals

So how do you decide between MVNOs or the Big Three for your next cell phone plan? There’s no right answer. Essentially, if you use lots of data, you’re a frequent hotspot user, you travel to Canada or Mexico frequently, you are interested in getting the very latest Apple iPhone, and cell phone plans from AT&T, Verizon, and T-Mobile might be better fits for your needs.

What if you’re not interested in perks, you don’t mind slow data when you run out of premium data (or you don’t use very much data to begin with) and you love your trusty old phone and aren’t interested in frequent upgrades? Then cell phone plans from MVNOs like Boost Mobile are definitely good contenders to keep in mind to help you save some money. 

Who Owns Boost Mobile?

In 2020, Dish Wireless bought Boost Mobile from T-Mobile as part of the Sprint/T-Mobile merger. Dish Wireless also owns Boost Infinite, which is a postpaid carrier with a simpler selection of cell phone plans.

Boost Mobile Plans

The short version is that as of this writing, Boost Mobile offers prepaid plans, most with no annual contract, that include some data, some hotspot data, and unlimited talk and text. If you hate it, you can switch to another provider whenever you like. Boost Mobile does allow you to pay for three months or a year of service upfront to save costs. 

Interested? Let’s break down Boost Mobile’s four cell phone plans in a little more detail. 

describing boost mobile cell phone plans
Breaking down Boost Mobile cell phone plans

First, you’ve got Boost Mobile Unlimited. This plan comes with unlimited data (though, as we mentioned above, your speeds will be slowed if you go beyond 30 GB of data use in a given month). There’s no hotspot data. It costs $25 a month.

Next, is Boost Mobile Unlimited. It’s the same plan name, but this variant comes with an additional 12 GB of hotspot data. It costs $40 per month.

Third is Boost Mobile’s Unlimited Plus, which includes the same unlimited data but also includes 30 GB of hotspot data. You also get the Todo Mexico add-on included in this plan, which allows you to have unlimited calling and texting to and from Mexico and Canada, plus 8 GB of data roaming in Mexico. You can also send texts to 200+ countries for free. This cell phone plan costs $60 per month. 

The fourth option is Boost Mobile’s 5 GB plan, which includes unlimited talk, text, not hotspot data, and 5 GB of data. This plan costs $15 a month.

Want to save even more money? You can pay $300 in one lump sum upfront to get unlimited talk, text, data, and 12 GB of monthly hotspot data. The 30 GB caveat still applies here, just so you know. That works out to $25 per month.

Just remember that the 30 GB slowdown limit applies to all plans, for both mobile data and hotspot data. If you blow through all your hotspot data on day one of your billing cycle, your normal mobile data will be very slow for the rest of the month.

It’s worth noting that you can add on specific perks: 

  • Todo Mexico PLUS: Provides you with unlimited texting and calling to and from Mexico and Canada, plus SMS to 200+ countries. You also get 8GB of data while roaming in Mexico. This add-on costs $5 a month.
  • $10 Global Talk & Text: As you’d guess from the name, you get talk and text to over 200 countries for $10 per month. 

Is Boost Mobile Worth It?

We don’t like to issue absolutes here because the truth is that Boost Mobile plans will be a great fit for some and a less good choice for others. It all depends on what you’re looking for in a cell phone plan.

Among other MVNOs, Boost Mobile is a good option – for one, unlike many other MVNOs, anyone can get on a Boost Mobile plan. With many other MVNOs, like Xfinity Mobile, plans are only available to that company’s Internet subscribers. 

Furthermore, the 30 GB “unlimited” data limit is fairly generous for the price point – others limit you to only 20 GB before slowing you down. The real steal is that Boost Mobile offers its plan with 12 GB of hotspot for effectively $25/month if you pay for the year upfront. 

Compared to the Big Three carriers, Boost Mobile is much more cost-effective but comes with none (or a only a few) of the other perks like streaming subscriptions, travel perks, upgrade offers, or continued data speeds beyond the data limit.

Beyond price points and “unlimited” data limits, we would advise you to consider a Boost Mobile plan the same way you would any other cell phone plan:

  • Check for good coverage in your home and work areas. In the case of Boost Mobile, you should check T-Mobile’s coverage map.
  • Does your chosen plan come with enough data, or do you need more? 

If that all checks out, then Boost Mobile may be worth checking out when you’re thinking about a new cell phone plan. 

The Bottom Line

Boost Mobile uses T-Mobile’s network to provide reliable coverage for their users at a more cost-effective price point than you can normally find with the Big Three carriers. While there’s the caveat that “unlimited” data isn’t really unlimited, the amount of premium data before you run into slowdowns offered by the plans is enough for a typical data user to enjoy.

Looking for the best phone plan deals from other carriers? Try our free, unbiased Plan Finder. With just a few clicks, we can sort through thousands of plan options to find the best choices for you based on how much data you want, what add-ons you’re interested in, and how much money you’re looking to spend. 

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