Samsung today announced the general availability details for the Galaxy S6 and Galaxy S6 Edge. The devices can be pre-ordered beginning Friday, March 27 and should reach most carrier stores on April 10. Samsung said the black, white, and gold models will be sold in the U.S. in 32GB, 64GB, and 128GB configurations. AT&T, Sprint, T-Mobile, Verizon Wireless, and U.S. Cellular all plan to sell the GS6 and GS6 Edge. Boost Mobile, Cricket Wireless, and MetroPCS will only offer the Galaxy S6. In addition to carrier stores, the two phones will be available at Samsung Experience Shops at Best Buy, as well as Amazon, Costco, Sam's Club, Target, and Walmart. Some carrier stores will have the Galaxy S6 and S6 Edge on display beginning tomorrow, even if sales don't commence until April 10. Samsung said carriers will announce individual pricing details later. The devices include 5.1-inch quad HD screens, 16-megapixel cameras, fingerprint readers, and multi-standard wireless charging.
Cricket Wireless today announced plans to sell the second-generation Motorola Moto E starting on March 13. The phone features LTE 4G, a 4.5-inch display, 5-megapixel camera, quad-core 1.2GHz processor and runs Android 5.0 Lollipop. The phone costs $129.99 and does not require a contract. Service plans start at $35 per month. Cricket is offering a free month of service to customers who switch from T-Mobile, MetroPCS, Sprint, and Boost.
Boost Mobile today introduced a new add-on for its service plans that provides unlimited calling to landlines and mobile phones in Mexico. The Todo Mexico plan costs $5 per month and can be added to Boost's $45 and $55 Data Boost plans. In addition to unlimited calling to Mexico, the Todo Mexico plan includes unlimited calling to Canada and unlimited international text messaging. Boost's move could be viewed as a response to recent changes made by AT&T, which now offers free calling to Mexico through its Cricket and GoPhone prepaid brands. The Todo Mexico add-on from Boost Mobile is available starting today.
Cricket Wireless today announced that all customers on its $50 and $60 plans can now make unlimited calls to Mexico. Cricket's subscribers can call landlines and mobile phones at no extra charge, though Cricket said calls to special or premium services may be blocked. The service also includes unlimited text, picture, and video messaging. The offer is not valid for Cricket's legacy CDMA customers. Cricket's Smart Plan costs $50 per month and includes unlimited calling, messaging, and 5GB of LTE data. The Pro Plan costs $60 and doubles data to 10GB. The Advanced Plan, which is available for a limited time, costs $60 and includes 20GB of LTE data and expands free messaging to 35 more countries. Customers can get a $5 monthly discount if they sign up for auto-pay. Cricket is still offering incentives to T-Mobile, MetroPCS, Sprint, and Boost Mobile customers, who will receive a free month of service for switching. Cricket operates on AT&T's network. AT&T recently acquired Iusacell, a Mexican network operator, and rolled out unlimited calls to Mexico to its own customers for $5 per month.
Cricket Wireless today added more data to its bottom two prepaid service plans in a bid to keep up with similar offers from Boost Mobile and MetroPCS. With Cricket's auto-pay discount, the Basic plan costs $35 per month and now includes unlimited talk, text, and 2.5GB of high-speed data per month (up from 1GB). Cricket's Smart plan costs $45 per month and includes 5GB of high-speed data (up from 3GB), and the Pro plan costs $55 per month and includes 10GB of high-speed data. Existing customers will automatically receive the upgraded data allotments. Last, Cricket added an Advanced plan that includes 20GB of data for $55 per month. The Advanced plan will only be available for a limited time and requires an LTE-capable handset. Cricket will provide one month of free service to new customers who sign up for its Smart, Pro, or Advanced plans. The new rates go into effect today. Cricket is owned and operated by AT&T. LTE speeds are limited to 8Mbps. Customers who exceed their monthly limit will be throttled for the remainder of the billing period.
Cricket Wireless today announced significant changes soon to impact its subscription music service. First, the company announced it will launch the Deezer music app and service on Jan. 31. The Deezer music service offers access to 35 million songs and tens of thousands of radio stations, all of which can be streamed over the network or cached for offline listening. The Deezer app and service will cost $6 per month (including taxes). Existing GSM-based Cricket customers can trial the service for free for 15 days. At the same time, Cricket plans to sunset its Muve Music service, something it has offered to customers for years. Muve Music will be discontinued entirely on Feb. 7. Muve is currently only available to Cricket's legacy CDMA customers. Cricket is offering to switch those customers -- and their Muve libraries/playlists -- to the GSM-based network and Deezer service. CDMA customers who switch to Cricket's GSM network will receive an extended trial of the Deezer service before they have to start making monthly payments. Cricket said Deezer won't be built into its mobile data offering like it did with Muve Music. Instead, it will be a separate, stand-alone service offered to all customers for the same $6 monthly rate. AT&T purchased Cricket last year and has been transitioning its legacy CDMA customers to its own GSM-based network since May. Cricket said it is pleased with the rate at which it is converting customers from the old network to the new one, though it wouldn't specify how many customers are still using CDMA equipment.
Here is a quick take on ZTE's new hero phone for Cricket Wireless as well as a peek at the new mobile hotspot projector.
ZTE and Cricket Wireless today announced the Grand X Max+, an Android smartphone that boasts a 6.0-inch display and premium design. ZTE has improved the materials and build quality and packed it into a phone measuring 7.87mm thick. The Grand X Max+ offers high-end features that are available at an affordable price point. The large display offers 720p HD resolution and the phone is powered by a quad-core 1.2GHz Snapdragon 400 processor with 2GB of RAM and 16GB of storage. It supports memory cards up to 32GB. The Grand X Max+ includes a 3,200mAh battery with Qualcomm's QuickCharge 1.0 technology, and it supports LTE, WiFi, Bluetooth, and GPS. The main camera rates 13 megapixels and the user-facing camera rates 5 megapixels and features a wide viewing angle. The phone runs Android 4.4.4 KitKat. The ZTE Grand X Max+ reaches Cricket stores Jan. 9. It will cost $199.99 without a contract.
Cricket Wireless is hoping a $100 bill credit will convince customers of Cincinnati Bell, MetroPCS, Boost Mobile, Virgin Mobile, Sprint, and T-Mobile to hop on over to Cricket. New customers must switch from the aforementioned carriers, purchase a new device, and activate a new line of service on a qualifying rate plan in order to receive the credit. The credit will be applied at the end of the first billing cycle. Cricket's service plans cost $40-$60 per month, depending on options. Cricket offered a similar promotion over the summer months, but only targeted Sprint and T-Mobile. The current promotion runs through Dec. 31.
Cricket recently indicated that it will soon require customers to wait an extra two months before they can unlock their handsets. Under the old policy, customers had to wait four months before they could ask for their handsets to be unlocked. Under the new policy, they must wait six months. Other facets of the policy remain the same. In order for Cricket customers to have their phones unlocked, the device must be designed for Cricket's network and purchased from a Cricket or authorized Cricket dealer. The change goes into effect December 7.
Cricket Wireless today announced the Nokia Lumia 635 will go on sale November 7. The phone, which is a small step up from the 630, features a 4.5-inch screen, Snapdragon 400 processor, and 5-megapixel camera. Cricket is charging $100.
Cricket Wireless today announced the ZTE X Max, the second big-screened phone to join the prepaid carrier's ranks. The X Max features a 6-inch 720p HD screen and 1.2GHz quad-core Snapdragon processor. The main camera rates 8 megapixels with an LED flash and HD video capture, and the user-facing camera rates 1 megapixel. The X Max includes 8GB of internal storage and supports memory cards up to 32GB. It runs Android 4.4. KitKat. The phone comes with the Peel Smart Remote app, which allows owners to discover TV content directly on their handset. The ZTE X Max goes on sale online and in stores October 10 and will cost $200. For a limited time, Cricket is offering a $100 bill credit to customers who switch from MetroPCS or T-Mobile.
Cricket Wireless today announced it has added the Nokia Lumia 530 to its lineup of low-cost smartphones. The 530 is Nokia's entry-level smartphone, which includes a 4-inch display, 5-megapixel camera, quad-core processor, and Windows Phone 8.1 with Cortana. The Lumia 530 will be available online and in select stores beginning October 3. It costs $50. Cricket also noted that it plans to roll out Windows Phone 8.1 to the Lumia 1320. Owners of the 1320 can expect to see the update arrive in the coming weeks.
Cricket Wireless today said it will sell the first-generation Moto G on September 19 for $150. The first-gen G has a 4.5-inch screen, 5-megapixel camera, and Snapdragon 400 processor. It supports Cricket's LTE service.
Sprint today announced it and its prepaid brands will all soon offer the HTC Desire 510. HTC announced the 510 last month. It is an entry-level handset with LTE 4G on board. It features a 4.7-inch display, a 1.2GHz quad-core Snapdragon 410 processor with 1GB of RAM, and 8GB of built-in storage. The main camera captures 5-megapixel images, and the user-facing camera captures VGA images. Connectivity features include Bluetooth 4.0, Wi-Fi, GPS, and DLNA for sharing media. The 510 runs Android 4.4 KitKat and includes HTC Sense and Blinkfeed. Sprint plans to sell the device with its postpaid service. It will reach Sprint stores on September 19. It will cost $9 per month with Sprint Easy Pay. The full retail price is $216. Sprint didn't spell out the contract price. Boost Mobile will begin selling the Desire 510 on September 22 for $100, and Virgin Mobile will begin selling it on September 23 for $100. Neither Boost nor Virgin Mobile requires contracts. The Desire 510 is also being sold by Cricket Wireless.
Cricket today committed to selling the HTC Desire 510 in the U.S. This entry-level smartphone from HTC offers the company's best features in an affordable package. Here are our first thoughts.
Cricket Wireless today said it will offer the HTC Desire 510 to customers beginning September 19. The handset will cost $150 and is compatible with Cricket's array of prepaid service plans. HTC announced the 510 last month. It is an entry-level handset with LTE 4G on board. It features a 4.7-inch display, a 1.2GHz quad-core Snapdragon 410 processor with 1GB of RAM, and 8GB of built-in storage. The main camera captures 5-megapixel images, and the user-facing camera captures VGA images. Connectivity features include Bluetooth 4.0, Wi-Fi, GPS, and DLNA for sharing media. The 510 runs Android 4.4 KitKat and includes HTC Sense and Blinkfeed. The handset will be available from Cricket's web site first, with a phased rollout across the company's 6,000 retail points through October.
Cricket today announced a promotion that offers up to double the amount of high-speed data for the same price as before. Starting September 13th, the $35/month (using Auto Pay) "Basic Plan" will offer 1 GB of high-speed data instead of the previous 500 MB. The $45 Smart Plan will offer 3 GB, up from 2.5 GB, and the $55 Pro Plan includes 10 GB instead of 5 GB. (Plans cost an extra $5/month without Auto Pay.) Existing customers on these plans will automatically be upgraded to the larger data allotments. Once a customer uses up the high-speed data allotment, data is throttled to 128 Kbps. The offer is for a limited time, but customers taking advantage will be able keep the larger data allotment after the offer expires.
Cricket Wireless today said it has reached a distribution agreement with GameStop. The gaming retailer will sell Cricket phones and service in more than 2,800 stores around the U.S. The two companies trailed the service in 10 markets over the last few months and will begin to expand to more stores in the weeks ahead. Cricket, which offers prepaid, no-contract wireless service, is owned and operated by AT&T.
Cricket Wireless, which is owned by AT&T, today announced a new incentive to win over T-Mobile and other customers. Cricket is offering five lines for $100 per month. The plan includes one more line than T-Mobile's current promotion (four lines for $100). Cricket said, "People can sign up for the five lines for $100 up until January 2, and enjoy the promotion long after." It didn't provide an actual end date. Each line gets unlimited talk/text and 500MB of data. The pricing is based on five lines of service with an eligible $40 base plan. Each successive line gains a greater discount. For example, line two receives a $10 monthly discount; line three receives a $20 monthly discount; line four receives a $30 monthly discount; and line five receives a $40 monthly discount. The promotion is available to new and existing customers (in good standing, with two eligible lines of service). Accounts with multiple lines will automatically be enrolled into the new promotion. The $100 monthly cost includes all taxes and fees.
Cricket Wireless is borrowing a play from T-Mobile by offering a $100 credit to customers who switch from the UNcarrier or MetroPCS to AT&T-owned Cricket. The $100 bill credit offer is available from August 24 to October 19 at Cricket stores nationwide and online. According to Cricket, there is no limit on the number of lines a customer can switch to Cricket. Each line transferred from T-Mobile/MetroPCS is eligible for the $100 bill credit. Cricket's prepaid Basic, Smart, and Pro plans cost $40, $50, and $60, respectively, per month. Each plan offers a $5 monthly reduction when customers choose to use auto-pay.
Two low-cost providers, RadioShack No Contract and Spot Mobile, have decided to call it quits. RadioShack didn't operate a traditional MVNO, but branded and resold Cricket Wireless' service as its own. Now that Cricket is owned by AT&T, and RadioShack No Contract struggled to win over customers, the company will cease selling the service. According to RadioShack, customers who purchased the service will be able to continue using their device and will be transitioned to Cricket Wireless. RadioShack will honor its 30-day return policy so those who recently purchased a RadioShack No Contract device can get a refund. RadioShack's retail business is also hurting and the company plans to close a wide number of stores this year. Separately, Spot Mobile, an MVNO that resold access to T-Mobile's network, also decided to shut down. Spot Mobile has already ceased processing account refills, and will shut down service altogether September 7. Spot Mobile said customers can port their number out to their carrier of choice.
Cricket Wireless today announced the pending availability of the ZTE Grand X, a large-screened Android smartphone. The Grand X features a 5-inch display with Gorilla Glass and a 1.2GHz dual-core Snapdragon processor from Qualcomm. The Grand X boasts two cameras. The main camera has a 5-megapixel sensor and the user-facing camera has a 1-megapixel sensor. The phone has a 2,300mAh battery that supports QuickCharge 1.0 for faster charging. The Grand X, which runs Android 4.3 Jelly Bean, will be available beginning August 8. It will cost $100 after a $50 mail-in rebate.
AT&T and T-Mobile recently filed paperwork with the FCC seeking permission to swap spectrum assets. The companies are looking at PCS and AWS spectrum in a handful of markets. First, AT&T was required to divest spectrum in 12 markets, mostly in Nevada and Texas, in order to win FCC approval of its Cricket Wireless acquisition. These assets will be transferred to T-Mobile. Second, the companies want to exchange assets scattered around California, Florida, Georgia, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Missouri, Pennsylvania, Texas, and Washington. In their filings with the FCC, AT&T and T-Mobile said the swap will "enable more efficient operations resulting from larger blocks of contiguous spectrum and/or the alignment of spectrum blocks held in adjacent markets." Such spectrum swaps are common in the secondary market for airwaves. The two companies didn't place a dollar value on the proposal, which requires FCC approval.
Cricket Wireless, which is owned by AT&T, today announced the availability of the Nokia Lumia 630 smartphone. The 630, which is a variant of the Lumia 635 (being sold by T-Mobile and MetroPCS), will reach Cricket stores on July 11. Cricket is offering the Lumia 630 for free with a $50 mail-in rebate card. The device is an entry-level Windows Phone with a 4.5-inch screen and 5-megapixel camera. Cricket is also offering discounts ranging from $20 to $50 on a wide selection of handsets, including the ZTE Sonata 4G, Prelude, and Overture 4G; the Moto G; the Nokia 520 and 1320; and the Samsung Galaxy Express 4G. Cricket is the new brand name being used by AT&T's former Aio Wireless unit. AT&T is transitioning Cricket's CDMA customers to its GSM network so it can eventually repurpose Cricket's spectrum. All the devices covered by Cricket's new promotion operate on AT&T's GSM network.
Cricket Wireless today announced the pending availability of the Nokia Lumia 1320. The device, which Nokia announced last year, has a 6-inch 720p display with Nokia's ClearBlack technology and Corning Gorilla Glass 3 for protection. It is powered by a 1.7GHz dual-core Snapdragon 400 processor with 1GB of RAM and 8GB of internal storage. The 1320 also has a 5-megapixel main camera and a VGA user-facing camera; a large 3,400mAh battery; and Bluetooth 4.0, GPS, LTE, and Wi-Fi radios. The 1320 ships with Windows Phone 8.1, which includes the Cortana personal assistant and Nokia apps such as HERE Maps, StoryTeller, and Camera. The Nokia Lumia 1320 will cost $279, though Cricket is offering a $50 gift card to those who mail in a rebate. It goes on sale June 18.
A new MVNO called Rok Mobile plans to offer a merged mobile-and-music service when it launches in July. The company is working with two unnamed carriers (one GSM, one CDMA) to resell access to LTE 4G networks, but it will also bundle in its own streaming music service as part of the core offering. Rok has not revealed what its monthly cost will be, but the price will include unlimited voice, messages, and data service in addition to music streaming, downloading, and caching. Rok purchased access to 20 million tracks just last month, and will let people create their own playlists as well as automatically generate playlists based on customer interests. The company intends to sell the Apple iPhone as well as high-end Android smartphones, though it will also encourage potential customers to bring their own handsets. Rok will have dedicated Android and iOS apps for customers, and will also provide access to music via desktop web browsers at some point after launch. Rok's tack is a bit different from Cricket's Muve Music, which added unlimited music for just $5 more per month. Rok Mobile is using music as the centerpiece of its offering, not pitching it as an add-on. Rok plans to launch July 4, and more details should become available at that time.
Cricket Wireless today announced the LG Optimus L70 smartphone will be available online and in stores beginning Friday for $50 after a $50 mail-in rebate. The L70 was announced earlier this year and is already being sold by MetroPCS and others.
AT&T recently indicated via its support web site that it will eventually discontinue offering Lifelife service through its Cricket prepaid brand. Lifeline allows qualified Americans to receive free or heavily discounted wireless service through Cricket. AT&T will support Circket's current CDMA Lifeline customers for the next 18 months, but it will not sign any new customers to Lifeline service on its GSM network. The company explained, "Cricket is upgrading its CDMA network to 4G GSM and expects to stop offering CDMA wireless service as early as March 2015." Cricket spelled out in capital letters that CDMA phones - including those used by Lifeline customers - will no longer work after it completes the transition to GSM/LTE. "When you transition to the new Cricket GSM network and rate plan, you will not be able to keep your Lifeline credit," it said. AT&T said Cricket does offer plans as low as $25 per month, which are comparable to some of the Lifeline plans. AT&T didn't explain why it is discontinuing support for Lifeline.
AT&T today discontinued its Aio Wireless brand and merged the service with Cricket Wireless, which it acquired earlier this year. Today marks the official launch of the new Cricket Wireless, which now reaches nationwide with a better selection of smartphones. Much like what T-Mobile did with MetroPCS, the new Cricket uses AT&T's GSM/HSPA/LTE network rather than Cricket's legacy CDMA network. All new devices sold by Cricket will be compatible with AT&T's network moving forward. AT&T says its HSPA+ network reaches 97% of Americans, and its LTE network reaches 280 million Americans. Cricket's plans cost $40, $50, and $60 per month, though each is eligible for a $5 discount when customers sign up for auto-pay. Each of these plans includes unlimited domestic voice minutes and text messaging, but vary in data allowances: 500MB, 2.5GB, and 5GB of high-speed data, respectively. Cricket offers discounts for multiple lines, such as $10 of the second line, $20 off the third line, and $30 off the fourth and fifth lines. Customers can choose add-ons, such as 1GB of data for $10 per month or an international voice/messaging plan for $15. Basic feature phone plans start at $25 per month for unlimited voice/messaging. Cricket says it has a wide range of smartphones, which it is offering for $50 off (mail-in rebate) for a limited time. Customers are able to bring their own compatible handset if they wish. Cricket Wireless does not require contracts and charges full price for its handsets. Last, Cricket said customers who have a full 12-month period of on-time payments will receive a $50 credit towards the purchase of their next handset. Nearly 3,000 Cricket and Aio Wireless stores have been rebranded nationwide and are open beginning today.
AT&T is weighing how best to move forward with Muve Music, the subscription music service it acquired along with Cricket Wireless. AT&T is most likely going to discontinue the service and sell it to another company, according to sources cited by The New York Times. AT&T did not confirm the Times' angle, but did say, "After a careful review, we've decided to explore alternative music options to Muve. For now, nothing changes for our Muve customers. They'll continue to enjoy their Muve experience at this time, as we evaluate alternative[s]." Muve Music has about 2 million paying customers, which is more than similar services, such as Rhapsody, that have a higher level of visibility with consumers. AT&T has already formulated a bidding process to auction the business unit off, says the Times. AT&T already sells a music service with Beats Audio. Beats Music can be shared among family members on the same plan. It has been available since January.
AT&T plans to relaunch Cricket Wireless, the prepaid provider it acquired earlier this year, at the end of the second quarter. AT&T CFO John Stephens said new customers will be given devices that run on AT&T's LTE network, rather than Cricket's, as the company looks to transition customers away from Cricket's spectrum so it can be reused. Stephens said Cricket will be given a national presence, with 3,000 locations around the country. At the same time, AT&T's existing prepaid service, Aio Wireless, will be folded into Cricket. AT&T expects it will take 18 months to transition all Cricket's customers away from Cricket's CDMA network to AT&T's LTE network. AT&T is pursuing a path similar to one set by T-Mobile with MetroPCS. When T-Mobile acquired MetroPCS last year, it began selling new devices that worked on its own HSPA/LTE network rather than MetroPCS's CDMA network. AT&T's ultimate goal is to repurpose Cricket's spectrum.
Aio Wireless, which is owned and operated by AT&T, today announced new service plans that offer increasing discounts for adding lines to a single account. The Group Save plans are available today to accounts with two to five lines of service. According to Aio Wireless, a two-line account will pay full price for the first line and then receive a $10 discount on the second line. A three-line account will receive a $10 discount for the second line and a $20 discount for the third line. Four- and five line accounts will receive a $10 discount on the first line, a $20 discount on the second line, and a $30 discount on the fourth (and fifth) lines. The idea is similar to that of Sprint's Framily Plans, which offer increasing per-line discounts the more lines are added to a single account. AT&T is in the process of acquiring prepaid provider Cricket Wireless. The Aio Wireless brand will eventually be retired in favor of Cricket Wireless.
With its acquisition of Leap Wireless now closed, AT&T was quick to provide some guidance to both Cricket Wireless and Aio Wireless customers on how the transition will unfold. To start, Cricket Wireless customers don't need to do anything right now. They can continue to use their existing device, number, and rate plan. AT&T will integrate Cricket's operations and network into its own. Cricket customers will be able to select a new device and plan once Cricket's back end is added to AT&T's. These new Cricket devices will run on AT&T's LTE 4G network, however, and not Cricket's existing CDMA network. AT&T said this integration will take several weeks to complete before the new devices and plans will be available. Customers of AT&T's existing prepaid brand, Aio Wireless, will notice only some minor changes. AT&T said Aio customers will be able to use the same devices and plans they've been using, but the Aio Wireless brand will be folded in favor of the Cricket brand. In a prepared statement, AT&T said, "The new Cricket is taking the very best from each brand and focusing on providing customers with simple, affordable no-annual-contract wireless that's easy every step of the way." More information will become available in the weeks ahead.
AT&T today announced that it has closed its proposed acquisition of Leap Wireless. The transaction was just approved by the Federal Communications Commission this afternoon, though AT&T and Leap's boards had already approved the deal months ago. According to AT&T, Cricket will be integrated with AT&T's existing operations over the coming weeks to create "the new Cricket." AT&T is promising to shake up the no-contract market with low-cost plans, strong devices, and an expanded network. The new Cricket will take advantage of AT&T's LTE 4G network rather than Cricket's CDMA network. AT&T expects Cricket's 4.6 million customers to fully migrate to its devices and network within 18 months. In addition to acquiring Cricket's customers, AT&T landed PCS and AWS spectrum licenses that it calls "largely complementary" to its existing holdings. Some of the Cricket spectrum covers approximately 41 million people and is completely unused. AT&T will begin using this spectrum for LTE as soon as possible to provide additional capacity to its 4G network. AT&T said the deal's closing will impact its first-quarter financials. It will detail how much when it reports first-quarter earnings in April.
The Federal Communications Commission today approved AT&T's proposed purchase of Leap Wireless and its assets, including Cricket Wireless. The acquisition includes 4.6 million customers, as well as spectrum, network equipment, and other assets, all of which will be transferred from Leap to AT&T. However, based on the FCC's analysis of the proposal, AT&T has to agree to a handful of conditions. First, AT&T has to divest some spectrum in select markets in southern Texas. Second, AT&T has to deploy LTE on Leap's unused spectrum within three to 12 months after the deal closes. Third, AT&T has to deploy LTE in six Texas markets within 18 months. Fourth, AT&T has to offer certain low-cost rate plans. Fifth, AT&T has to offer a device trade-in program for both smartphones and feature phones. Further, AT&T has to maintain Cricket's current CDMA-based roaming agreements for as long as it continues to operate the CDMA network. Last, AT&T has to divest ownership that Leap has in a competitive wireless telecommunications provider (if Leap doesn't divest them before the deal closes). As long as AT&T does all these things, the FCC believes the proposal will have minimal impact on the competitive nature of the market and will be a net benefit to customers who will eventually gain access to AT&T's LTE 4G network. Neither AT&T nor Cricket has said exactly when they expect the deal to close.
AT&T CEO Randall Stephenson today said the company expects to close its acquisition of Leap Wireless by the end of the month, and that it will use the pre-paid carrier's brand to shake things up. "We're going to be fairly aggressive [there]," said Stephenson, to "see if we can be a little disruptive down at that end of the market." Stephenson made the remarks at the Morgan Stanley Technology, Media & Telecom Conference. He explained that though Cricket has a strong brand, potential customers often avoid it due to its limited network coverage. Once AT&T acquires Cricket, that story will change. "All of a sudden overnight, Cricket is going to have nationwide coverage," he said. AT&T didn't announce any specific plans regarding Cricket. Stephenson also noted that the AT&T Next program, which lets customers pay for their devices over time, has become very popular. By the end of December, 20% of new device sales were being financed through AT&T Next rather than subsidized with a standard two-year contract.
Cricket Wireless today announced a new service plan that will let customers combine five smartphone lines for a total of $100 per month. The plan includes unlimited voice minutes and messaging, 1GB of data, and unlimited use of Muve Music. Further, customers who sign up for auto-pay will realize another $5 in monthly savings, with a total bill of just $95. In addition to the 5 Smartphone Lines for $100 Plan, Cricket also announced a new trade-in program that promises to "triple" the value placed on trade-ins. The Nation's Best Trade-In Program will offer customers a minimum of a $30 credit for Cricket smartphones and a $15 credit for all other phones. Phones that are worth more will be valued appropriately. Both the new smartphone plan and the trade-in plan kick off at Cricket Wireless retail stores on January 26.
Aio Wireless recently began offering customers the chance to earn up to $250 per year by referring friends and family to the prepaid service. Existing customers can submit email addresses to Aio Wireless, which will then send a message to the referrals with an offer to join. If they do,, both the customer and the referral are eligible for $25 (provided they each remain customers for a minimum of 60 days). The existing customer receives the $25 in the form of a service credit. Aio Wireless customers can refer up to 10 people annually. Aio Wireless is owned and operated by AT&T. AT&T has said that it will fold Aio Wireless into Cricket Wireless when it finalizes its acquisition of the prepared carrier, expected later this year.
Cricket Wireless today announced the Hydro Plus. The Hydro Plus is the latest waterproof Android smartphone from Kyocera that can withstand up to 30 minutes in one meter of water, in addition to blowing rain and dust. It features a 3.5-inch 480 x 320 display and comes with a 1.0-GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon processor with 512MB of memory, 2GB of internal storage, and support for microSD cards up to 32GB. The Hydro Plus includes a 3.2-megapixel camera with LED flash, Stereo Bluetooth (2.1+EDR), Wi-Fi, and GPS. Other features include a three-axis accelerometer, a number of sensors, and Kyocera's "Eco Mode" for power management. The Kyocera Hydro Plus is compatible with Cricket's Muve Music plan, which starts at $50 per month. The Hydro Plus costs $139.99, and does not require a new contract. It will be available in the coming days.