Thursday, 17 September 2020 12:41

VIDEO: Boost Mobile's 20 years of success in telco disruption

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It has been 20 years since Boost Mobile launched, becoming a massive brand in the US and a great success in Australia too, supporting a range of sports but also by offering and even pioneering genuinely competitive offers on Australia's best network.

With Boost Mobile founder Peter Adderton having gone from "Avalon to Wall Street" by making Boost a huge brand in the US and Australia, and with "well north" of 500,000 customers that bodaciously challenges Amaysim for No.1 MVNO in Australia, Boost Mobile is a definite Australian success story.

Technology and sporting media were treated to special one hour briefing with Peter Adderton this morning, where he regaled us all with impressive stories around Boost Mobile's success, while also bringing in two top sports stars from the world of SuperCars racing and surfing to tell us some interesting stories, too, and if I get permission to publish that event's video, I will in a follow up story/

Before we get further into this article, largely based from Boost Mobile's 20th Anniversary celebrations media release from today, there are three top line points the company highlighted, which are illuminative of the current continued success and how that success was attained.

Those three things are:

1. More Australians are turning to Boost Mobile than ever before
2. Strong foundations, collaborations and firsts continue to set the tone for the brand today
3. We take risks because the biggest risk in our world is taking no risk at all”

One of the things Boost Mobile has successfully done is to continue re-invigorating itself as "the world’s largest youth-focused telco brand".

We're told that Boost is "a homegrown brand that has experienced sustained success in Australia, Boost Mobile has grown well beyond its local roots to become a force in the U.S. Telco industry with its commitment to fight for the best deal for consumers on both continents. As part of its anniversary, Boost Mobile is celebrating record growth and servicing more Australians today than any other time in its history".

Founder Peter Adderton explains that his goal was to "deliver respectability, fun, excitement, and most importantly value to consumers, with the telco industry at the time largely ignoring and undervaluing the fast-growing pre-paid market".

Indeed, from the beginning, Boost Mobile has been "a fighter for its consumers, always looking to deliver value that has evolved as the industry and technology has changed markedly over two decades, including being the first to champion and offer unlimited talk and text."

Boost also moved from the Optus network to the superior Telstra network, and as far as I am personally aware, it is the only non-Telstra owned but Telstra using network provider to offer full access to the entire Telstra mobile network, and not just the slightly smaller wholesale network that competitors like AldiMobile are forced to use.

Here's the full video of the 20th Anniversary media event with all the questions and answers - the article continues below, please read on!

So, where did the inspiration for the name "Boost" in Boost Mobile come from?

All, its name was first coined after the Boost team overheard a surfer talking about ‘boosting a wave’ while at an Avalon nightclub, and ever since, Boost Mobile has ridden this wave from Australia across the Pacific to the U.S in 2003.

The US side fo the business was first acquired by Nextel before later being acquired by Sprint Mobile. In early 2020, the merger between Sprint and T-Mobile was approved, with the Boost Mobile brand then being acquired by DISH networks, which paid a reported $1.4B USD.

It's extremely illuminating to note that the Boost Mobile brand name in the US has survived all of these acquisitions, showcasing the brand's great strength.

In comparison, Richard Branson did one of his usual whacky stunts when launching the Virgin Mobile brand in Australia, but today, where is this brand in Australia? It barely lives on as an airline brand and there are some fitness gyms that also bear the name, not that many people are using gyms or airlines these days, while mobile phones and mobile networks are beyond essential items of post-COVID 21st century life.

What about Boost Mobile's performance in Australia?

We're told that "Boost Mobile continues to deliver strong results locally across a range of metrics. It is now the fastest growing MVNO in Australia by organic customer acquisition, and it is now supporting more Australians than any other time in its 20-year history.

"Active searches for Boost Mobile on Google have also more than doubled over the last 12 months as Australians seek a reliable, trustworthy, value-driven alternative. It continues to lead the industry in social media followings and engagement.

"This success was achieved off the back of brand trust and a strong suite of product offerings, including the recently introduced range of long-life product offerings delivering consumers significant and cost-effective data that lasts 12 months on Telstra’s retail network, with coverage access that no other MVNO is able to offer."

Founder Peter Adderton attributes part of this longevity to strong foundations, an unwavering commitment to what the company stands for, and consistently delivering for consumers.

Adderton said: "We have been real with our consumers for 20 years now, which matters more than anything to us. We wake up every day and fight for our consumers, and even after 20 years our passion and knowledge continues to resonate with Aussies who want a fair deal, a trusted brand and access to the biggest and best network.

“We aren’t afraid to take risks, which has been part of our DNA right from the start. We were the first mainstream brand to embrace action sports and hip hop music, by incorporating some of the world’s biggest athletes and musicians as ambassadors at a time when they were persona-non-grata to big business. But it worked for us and put us on a path of differentiation and success.” he added.

While celebrating the past and acknowledging current successes, Peter Adderton also offers his thoughts of the near future for Boost Mobile and the telco industry more broadly.

“I’ve spoken at length for many years about a local telco industry that is driven by key players who are not innovating around consumer needs. This is where Boost Mobile plays and will continue to grow and evolve. We will continue to put the customer in the driver’s seat, and very soon that will mean they can name their price and benefits rather than it being the other way around.”

Peter Hill, Co-Founder and Board Member, looks back at what he believes is the secret to Boost Mobile’s longevity.

“20 years ago we came together with Peter Adderton in the establishment of Boost Mobile after other shared youth culture ventures had evolved. Our long history in board sports, action sports and youth culture have been our guiding star on all decisions. We know our customers value authenticity as much as we do. We take risks because the biggest risk in our world is taking no risk at all.

“None of the Boost Mobile team ever try to dictate what is right to our customers, we are just proud to represent their needs in an otherwise commodity driven Telco world. The next 20 years will be exciting for Boost as we keep responding to our customers, who are the most sophisticated communications demographic in the world.”

Boost's mysterious and coming new platform, along with some Q&A from today's media event:

During today's press briefing, Adderton hinted at a new platform Boost would soon be introducing that was blowing away telco executives as an incredible coup, and while Adderton was carefully coy about letting anything more than that very brief of descriptions out of the bag, he talked it up as something that would be spectacular, so we certainly are intrigued and awaiting the launch of this news.

During the briefing, Adderton was asked when Boost might get access to 5G, but he wisely noted that 5G hasn't delivered much yet in terms of added speed or latency improvements, and that even Apple was only launching its 5G iPhones in the very near future.

He noted it was certainly important and that it would come at some point, presumably when Telstra was ready, and also noted that what was expected to be a money earner by telcos wanting to charge extra for 5G speeds had devolved into just part of the plan for most telcos - which is what I personally think, too.

Without going into more detail, Adderton answered my question about the strength of Boost Mobile's refurbished iPhone, Samsung and Pixel smartphone business, which I say is to be entirely expected as selling once flagship phones at significant discounts and with warranties to boot is definitely a winning proposition as the phones are guaranteed not be stolen and are guaranteed to work - something you certainly can't be sure of when buying from Gumtree.

Finally, I asked Adderton whether Boost Mobile would ever offer an "unlimited plan" that would then drop down to 1.5Mbps speeds, and whether Boost would be first to boost that speed-limited speed to 2 or even 3Mbps.

I asked this because I used up my 80GB limit with my own Telstra plan and I was very happy to be on the 1.5Mbps speed cap of "unlimited data" without having to pay lots of $10 per 1GB as I would have had to in the past.

Also my sister is on Telstra $15 per month data-only SIM plan where she gets 5GB of full speed data and then spends the rest of the month on unlimited data at a 1.5Mbps speed cap, and she has been able to work from home, make and receive VOIP calls on a work VOIP headset, watch Netflix, YouTube and Amazon Prime.

Only Amazon Prime has buffered every now and then, and while Netflix can start off in fuzzy SD, even it seems to become much clearer after a couple of minutes. My sister is paying just $5 per month for the next 12 months because of a Click Frenzy Telstra data SIM promotion, so she's getting unlimited data for the equivalent of $5 per month! I challenge anyone to beat that... I really would like to know!

Anyway, Adderton did rightly call this "fake unlimited" because we'd all really prefer full speed data, but then that's why I asked him if Boost might lift his cap to 2 or 3Mbps originally.

Adderton said that he wasn't interested in this type of unlimited plan - he said unlimited data should be at full speed but be priced accordingly, which does make sense.

He also noted that telcos offered this kind of unlimited data with speed caps without fully knowing how their networks would cope, and clearly, it is obviously to me that it does put a strain on network, so probably none will be boosting speed caps to 2 or 3Mbps anytime soon.

Oh well. Still, it's this kind of pragmatism yet forward thinking phone networking offering merged with youth-focused sports partnerships that has ensured Boost Mobile has not only thrived over the past 20 years, but seems more than certain to enjoy at least another 20 years and likely much longer too.

So, if you're a subscriber of a pre-paid service, it's definitely worth checking Boost Mobile's offerings out to make sure you're getting a competitive offering at a competitive price, and congratulations from me on 20 years of success


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Alex Zaharov-Reutt

One of Australia’s best-known technology journalists and consumer tech experts, Alex has appeared in his capacity as technology expert on all of Australia’s free-to-air and pay TV networks on all the major news and current affairs programs, on commercial and public radio, and technology, lifestyle and reality TV shows. Visit Alex at Twitter here.

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