Boost Mobile starts selling Cox prepaid internet at retail stores

Boost Mobile started selling prepaid internet service from Cox Communications in two markets this month as it evaluates the potential for a broader distribution agreement in the cable operator's service area.

“Beginning this month, Boost Mobile will trial Straight Up Internet from Cox Communications in select Boost Mobile stores within the Las Vegas and Phoenix markets,” Jay Miglionico, VP of Boost Sales, confirmed to FierceWireless. “After a short time period, we will evaluate a potential storewide launch within the Cox footprint.”

As the fourth-largest U.S. cable operator, Cox serves around 6.5 million customers across 18 states.

Wave7 Research flagged the December 1 Las Vegas launch, a photo of which was tweeted by a VIP Wireless (Boost master dealer) official, in its most recent prepaid competition report.

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Wave7 principal Jeff Moore told Fierce that he could see the logic, noting Boost’s 5,600 retail store footprint versus Cox’s roughly 130 stores (though clearly not all Boost Stores fall within Cox’s cable footprint).

Offering Straight Up prepaid internet from Cox follows a trend for wireless prepaid seller Boost, which had an earlier deal to sell Xfinity prepaid internet from Comcast at retail stores in the cable operator’s markets. The pattern is part of what makes the new move with Cox important in Moore’s view.

“Boost has quietly been selling Xfinity Prepaid Internet since 2017 in their stores and we’re still seeing that happen,” he said. 

Indeed, Boost’s Miglionico noted the Cox program “is similar to our established relationships with other prepaid internet providers such as Xfinity.”

Moreover, it’s something Wave7 believes Boost dealers actually like as it provides another service to sell. Wave7 store checks in the field continue to see displays for Xfinity’s service and Moore thinks it’s something that sells, working for both Comcast and Boost dealers.

“It seems to be a positive arrangement for Boost to sell cable internet services in their stores,” he said, noting the prepaid brand’s huge retail presence relative to Cox and some 500-plus Xfinity stores. “Boost has the retail footprint that they can leverage in this relationship.”

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Moore’s comments align with responses from Miglionico regarding how the Cox move fits into Dish-owned Boost’s retail strategy.

“We are always looking for ways to help our retailers monetize their store traffic not only through our own products, but also products from partners that fit our targeted demographic," Miglionico said.

Moore said the segment overlap makes sense, noting that people who don’t’ have great credit records might be Boost subscribers and if the same customer needs internet access they might turn to Xfinity Prepaid Internet or Straight Up Internet from Cox.

Notably, a trend Wave7 hasn’t yet observed much of is bringing TV offerings such as Hopper from parent Dish into the Boost Mobile retail fold. Also not showing up in Boost stores via Wave7 checks according to Moore – any signage or mention of a DraftKings partnership that Dish and Boost first touted in May. Dish also has a 5G network beta launch in Las Vegas this month, however exactly what Dish’s retail strategy will be remains to be seen.

As for Cox, it’s the fourth-largest cable operator in the U.S. but also has had its own ambitions to enter the wireless space. It’s similar to Comcast, Charter and Altice USA, which all have launched respective mobile offerings via MVNO deals.

RELATED: Cox launches CBRS pilot with city of Las Vegas

In 2020, Cox said it was “exploring wireless more aggressively” but did not comment on plans to operate as an MVNO even as it staffed up, hiring industry veteran GS Sickand as VP of Wireless Engineering.

A LightReading article in October detailed how Cox was planning to launch mobile services that month under an MVNO with Verizon, but efforts were dashed by a judge’s ruling in response to a T-Mobile lawsuit. Cox had already dipped its toe in the MVNO business years back using Sprint’s network but bailed on the effort in 2012. That relationship was part of a legal scuffle with T-Mobile, which completed its merger with Sprint last year.