Unlimited cell phone service may have a low-price option

Two mobile phone companies tied to Sprint are mixing it up in an intensifying fight for budget-conscious wireless phone customers.

Virgin Mobile and Boost Mobile, two companies selling their own brand of service with the help of Sprint’s networks, punched and counterpunched this week with their $50 unlimited calling plans.

Virgin has a brand new package that will be available to customers starting next week. For $49.99 a month, customers can get unlimited calls.

“Prepaid offers better value, rates and flexibility with more advanced handsets than ever before,” Dan Schulman, Virgin’s CEO, said in a statement.

Boost countered that the $50 plan it launched earlier this year was better because it didn’t include extra taxes or fees and it does include extras such as text messaging.

Wireless industry analysts said this could be just the start.

Regional carriers such as Leap Wireless and MetroPCS have become increasingly popular among those strapped for cash or otherwise embracing the new frugality in a down economy.

MetroPCS just said its customer rolls jumped 51 percent in the first quarter from a year ago.

The offers from Virgin and Boost are aimed at countering their smaller rivals as well as each other.

T-Mobile USA also has started a $50 a month unlimited voice plan.

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