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RadioShack No Contract, Spot Mobile to Cancel Services

Aug 13, 2014, 10:01 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

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 to Sell ZTE Grand X

Aug 1, 2014, 7:55 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

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 Agree to Swap Some Spectrum

Jul 10, 2014, 12:01 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

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 Offering Lumia 630 for Free and Other Deals

Jul 10, 2014, 10:48 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

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 Adds the Nokia Lumia 1320 to Portfolio

Jun 10, 2014, 7:01 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

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.

Rok MVNO to Combine Mobile with Music

Jun 9, 2014, 9:07 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

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 Snags LG Optimus L70 for $50 After Rebate

Jun 4, 2014, 1:08 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

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's Cricket Brand to Cut Off Lifeline Service

Jun 4, 2014, 12:39 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

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 Folds Aio Wireless Into Cricket, Launches Anew

May 18, 2014, 9:48 AM   by Eric M. Zeman   updated May 18, 2014, 6:26 PM

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 Exploring Options for Cricket's Muve Music

May 8, 2014, 7:48 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

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 to Relaunch Cricket By End of Second Quarter

Apr 23, 2014, 7:56 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

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 Takes a Page from Sprint's 'Framily' Plans

Apr 16, 2014, 11:58 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

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.

Aio Wireless Brand to Be Abandoned in Favor of Cricket

Mar 13, 2014, 8:02 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

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 Closes Acquisition of Leap Wireless

Mar 13, 2014, 7:50 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

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.

FCC Approves AT&T's Purchase of Cricket with Conditions

Mar 13, 2014, 3:22 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

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 Says It Will Be 'Disruptive' With Cricket

Mar 6, 2014, 1:05 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

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 Plan Offers 5 Smartphones for $100 Per Month

Jan 24, 2014, 8:26 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

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 Offering Customers $25 for Referrals

Jan 22, 2014, 1:09 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

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 to Sell Kyocera Hydro Plus for $140

Jan 21, 2014, 10:13 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

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.

Hands On with the ZTE Sonata

Jan 7, 2014, 7:05 PM   by Rich Brome

The Aio brand's days may be numbered - since AT&T plans to replace the brand with Cricket - but for now, they're still around and pumping out new phones. Their latest is the Sonata from ZTE, a basic Android phone.

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AT&T: Device Subsidies Likely to Go Away

Dec 10, 2013, 12:27 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

AT&T CEO Randall Stephenson today said that the modern practice of device subsidies is unsustainable for the wireless industry. In order to convince people to use their network, wireless operators generally subsidize the cost of the handset. This is what makes a $649 device appear more affordable when priced by the carrier at $199. The carrier recoups the $450 in subsidies over the lifetime of the contract. "When you're growing the business initially, you have to do aggressive device subsidies to get people on the network," said Stephenson. "But as you approach 90% penetration, you move into maintenance mode. That means more device upgrades. And the model has to change. You can't afford to subsidize devices like that." AT&T recently dropped the cost of service plans for those customers who bring their own device to the network, or continue to use an old one. AT&T also allows more frequent device upgrades as long as customers agree to pay for a larger share of the device's actual cost. Stephenson didn't announce any concrete plans to move away from providing device subsidies, but the company has already laid the groundwork. Stephenson also noted that once it completes its acquisition of Cricket Wireless, it will move more aggressively into the prepaid space. AT&T has already said it will merge Cricket with its own Aio Wireless prepaid service.

Hands-On: ZTE Warp 4G and Source

Nov 21, 2013, 7:16 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

Phone Scoop was able to spend a few moments with the recently announced ZTE Warp 4G for Boost Mobile and the ZTE Source for Cricket Wireless. Here are our initial impressions.

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California Says AT&T Can Buy Cricket

Nov 21, 2013, 1:28 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

The California Public Utilities Commission has concluded its own review of AT&T's proposed acquisition of Leap Wireless. It believes the acquisition would be beneficial to consumers and gave it a greenlight. The deal still needs approval from government regulators, however, including the Federal Communications Commission. The FCC is still reviewing the details.

FCC Piles Paperwork on AT&T Regarding Leap Acquisition

Nov 8, 2013, 6:44 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

The Federal Communications Commission today sent requests for information to both AT&T and Leap Wireless regarding AT&T's proposed acquisition of its smaller rival. The FCC is looking for information regarding a wide range of topics, including: company organization charts, internal presentations regarding the acquisition, Leap valuation documentation, short-term and long-range business plans, spectrum utilization and efficiency analysis, service plan comparisons, and much, much more. AT&T and Leap have until November 22 to provide the documentation. AT&T wants to absorb Leap Wireless in the wake of its failed acquisition of T-Mobile. AT&T hopes to make use of Cricket's spectrum assets to bolster its own, as well as use its brand to sell prepaid services.

Leap's Shareholders Approve AT&T Merger

Oct 31, 2013, 8:59 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Leap Wireless, the company that runs Cricket Wireless, today announced that its shareholders have approved of AT&T's proposed acquisition of the small network operator. "Stockholder approval is an important milestone on our path to completing the merger with AT&T. I'd like to thank the dedicated representatives from both companies who are working hard to complete the transaction," said Doug Hutcheson, Leap's chief executive officer. The purchase agreement includes all of Leap's assets, including 3,400 employees, 5 million customers, a CDMA and LTE network, and radio spectrum licenses covering 137 million people. AT&T has agreed to pay about $1.2 billion for Cricket and its assets. The deal is still subject to FCC and Department of Justice review.

Cricket Prices iPhone 5s at $599, iPhone 5c at $499

Oct 25, 2013, 7:20 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Cricket Wireless today made available the Apple iPhone 5s and 5c. Cricket customers may buy the new iPhones at Cricket retail stores or via Cricket's web site. Cricket is only selling the 16GB models. It is charging $599.99 for the iPhone 5s and $499.99 for the iPhone 5c. Cricket also offers device financing. Well-qualified customers can get the new iPhones for as little as $25 down and payments as low as $21 per month (for iPhone 5c). Service plans start at $50 for unlimited talk, text, and data. Cricket does not require contracts.

AT&T Will Fold Aio Wireless into Cricket After Acquisition

Oct 19, 2013, 8:52 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

AT&T has indicated that it will close its brand new Aio Wireless brand if it successfully acquires Leap Wireless. Leap owns and operates Cricket, and AT&T announced plans to acquire the pre-paid operate earlier this year. AT&T said through FCC filings that it would effectively merge its Aio Wireless operations with those of Cricket and continue to offer pre-paid services under the Cricket brand. Earlier this year, AT&T said to the FCC, "Aio still faces significant challenges to establish nationwide retail distribution, build brand recognition, and develop a significant customer base." It followed that statement this week by saying, "After the transaction's close, AT&T intends to combine the nascent operations of Aio with Leap's existing operations under the Cricket brand name."

Cricket Announces the ZTE Source

Oct 17, 2013, 7:11 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Cricket Wireless today introduced the ZTE Source, a new Android smartphone that features a 4.5-inch display and 1.2GHz dual-core Snapdragon processor. The Source includes a 5-megapixel main camera that can capture 720p HD video and a 1-megapixel user-facing camera for video chats. Both sensors use back-side illumination for better low-light performance. The Source also includes 4GB of built-in storage and supports microSD cards up to 32GB. It runs Android 4.1 Jelly Bean and ships with Cricket's Muve Music service. The Source is compatible with Cricket's LTE network. It will be available online and in stores beginning October 20 for $219.99. Service plans start as low as $45 per month. Cricket Wireless is in the process of being acquired by AT&T.

Cricket to Sell iPhone 5s and 5c

Oct 14, 2013, 8:07 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Cricket Wireless today announced that it will begin selling the Apple iPhone 5s and iPhone 5c on October 25. Interested customers may sign up for more details. Pricing wasn't disclosed.

Cricket Adds Unlimited Calling to Cell Phones in Mexico

Sep 12, 2013, 12:12 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

Cricket Wireless today introduced the Unlimited International Long Distance Plus plan, which gives Cricket customers unlimited calling to cell phones in Mexico. The voice plan costs $20 per month and includes all the features of the existing Unlimited International Long Distance plan, which offers unlimited calls to landlines and unlimited messaging to more than 90 countries around the world. The new Unlimited International Long Distance Plus plan will be available beginning September 15.

AT&T Caves On 700 Band Interoperability

Sep 10, 2013, 12:54 PM   by Rich Brome

AT&T today announced its commitment to supporting band 12 with its LTE network and devices in the 700 MHz range. The move will make it much easier for smaller carriers such as U.S. Cellular and Cricket to move forward with their LTE networks in the Lower 700 MHz band. AT&T has previously only supported band 17 and offered band 17 devices, which do not support the lower-frequency blocks of the 700 MHz band licensed by the smaller carriers. Band 12 is a superset of band 17, covering both the lower frequencies used by the smaller carriers and the higher frequencies used by AT&T. Manufacturers have tended to focus more effort toward phones for larger carriers such as AT&T (with band 17), leaving smaller carriers with few band 12 phones that work with their LTE networks. Now that AT&T has committed to offering band 12 devices, more devices should be available to the smaller carriers. AT&T previously objected to supporting band 12, citing interference concerns. The FCC has been re-examining the issue of 700 MHz band interoperability recently, putting pressure on AT&T.

Sprint Adds Kyocera Kona to Entry-Level Roster

Aug 16, 2013, 12:34 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

Sprint today announced the availability of the Kyocera Kona, an inexpensive flip phone. The Kona includes a 2.4-inch QVGA internal display, a 1.44-inch external display, a 2-megapixel camera, Bluetooth 2.1+EDR, and a standard stereo headphone jack. The Kona includes a large dialpad for placing calls and large fonts for easier viewing. The Kyocera Kona is available online and in Sprint stores today for $0 with a new contract. The Kona is already available from Cricket Wireless and is sold by Boost Mobile as the Coast.

Cricket Announces Monthly Phone Payments, Muve Music 4.0

Jul 17, 2013, 1:20 PM   by Eric M. Zeman   updated Jul 19, 2013, 2:37 PM

Cricket Wireless today made several announcements regarding phone financing, Musive Music 4.0, and new device availability. The first bit of news concerns how customers purchase phones. Cricket will offer flexible payment financing options that allow customers to pay for devices over time. There are three financing options. The first requires a 4% downpayment on a new device plus a minimum monthly payment of 4% of the device's retail cost. This plan does not charge extra financing fees. The second option requires a 5% downpayment on a new device plus a minimum monthly payment of 5% of the device's retail cost. This plan does not include extra financing costs if paid in full within six months. The last plan, which does not require a credit check, requires an 8% downpayment on a new device and offers a same-as-cash price for hardware paid off in 90 days. The Samsung Galaxy S4, for example, would require a downpayment of $26 at 4%, $32.50 at 5%, and $52 at 8% (based on the full retail cost of $649). The new Muve Music 4.0 makes major changes to the user interface and speed of the app. It has a new sidebar for accessing all the app's features, and allows for instant streaming of songs. Further, Muve Music will cache music on internal memory or regular microSD cards rather than the special Muve Music-compatible cards that were previously required. Muve Music 4.0 will first be available on the Samsung Galaxy S III, the GS4, Admire 2, and Discover, with other devices to follow later this year. Last, Cricket announced availability of the Samsung Galaxy Admire 2 and the Samsung Galaxy Discover. The Admire 2 is a mid-range Android phone with 4G LTE, 4-inch display, 5-megapixel camera, memory card slot, and Samsung's TouchWiz interface. The Galaxy Discover is a basic Android phone with a 3.5-inch display, 3-megapixel camera, memory card slot, and stock Android 4.0 interface. All the new programs go into effect July 21, which is also when the new phones will be available in Cricket stores.

AT&T To Buy Cricket

Jul 12, 2013, 4:34 PM   by Rich Brome   updated Jul 12, 2013, 6:19 PM

AT&T and Leap Wireless have reached a deal for AT&T to buy the smaller regional carrier, which operates under the Cricket brand. AT&T will keep and expand the Cricket brand to additional U.S. cities. The purchase includes all of Leap's assets, including 3,400 employees, 5 million customers, a CDMA and LTE network, and radio spectrum licenses covering 137 million people. Leap's LTE technology and mostly PCS (1900 MHz) and AWS (1700 MHz) radio spectrum holdings align with AT&T's network and LTE phones, which should ease integrating the two networks. One notable exception is the Lower 700 MHz A-block license for Chicago that Leap recently obtained in a license swap with Verizon Wireless. AT&T will sell that spectrum, since it is not compatible with AT&T's current phones. When asked, an AT&T spokesman declined to say how and when the Cricket CDMA network would be phased out, saying "we'll share details of our go-forward plan once the deal closes, which we believe will be 6 to 9 months from now." AT&T will pay $15/share for Leap, or about $1.2 billion total. About 30% of Leap shareholders have already agreed to vote in favor of the deal. The deal will be subject to FCC and Department of Justice review. AT&T tried and failed to buy T-Mobile in 2011, after the government objected. T-Mobile recently completed its purchase of MetroPCS, Cricket's main direct competitor.

Hands On with the Samsung Admire 2 and Discover for Cricket

May 22, 2013, 12:38 PM   by Rich Brome

Cricket today showed a sneak peek of two Samsung phones coming this summer. The Admire 2 sports a 4-inch screen and 4G LTE, while the Galaxy Discover is more basic with its 3.5-inch screen and stock Android interface. We checked them out. Read on for our first impressions.

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Cricket, Sprint To Enable LTE Roaming

May 22, 2013, 10:28 AM   by Rich Brome

At a press briefing this morning, Cricket revealed that it plans to enable LTE roaming later this year on bands 4 (1700) and 25 (1900). Band 25 LTE is used exclusively by Sprint in the U.S. Band 4 (AWS) is used by many carriers, including T-Mobile, AT&T, and soon, Verizon. The Samsung Galaxy S 4 will be Cricket's first phone to support band 25 roaming.

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Cricket To Carry Samsung Admire 2, Galaxy Discover

May 22, 2013, 10:23 AM   by Rich Brome   updated May 22, 2013, 12:49 PM

Cricket today announced plans to offer two new Samsung Android phones this summer: the Admire 2 and the Galaxy Discover (already offered in a GSM variant by Net10.)

  • The Admire 2 is a new, mid-range Android phone with 4G LTE, 4-inch display, 5-megapixel camera, memory card slot, and Samsung's TouchWiz interface and camera features on top of Android 4.1. U.S. Cellular carries it as the Axiom.
  • The Galaxy Discover is a basic Android phone with a 3.5-inch display, 3-megapixel camera, memory card slot, and stock Android 4.0 interface.
Further specs, pricing, and launch dates will be announced at a later date.

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Cricket Announces Galaxy S 4 Launch Details

May 22, 2013, 10:15 AM   by Rich Brome

Cricket today announced that it will start selling the Samsung Galaxy S 4 on June 7 for $599.99. A financing option starts with a $59.99 down payment, plus monthly payments.

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Cricket Intros New Family Plan, Revamps iPhone Plans

Apr 22, 2013, 7:09 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Cricket Wireless today announced two new sets of plans, one for multiple lines and another for iPhones. The new family plan offers two smartphone lines for $40 per line per month. The plan includes unlimited voice minutes and text messages, 1GB of full-speed data (throttled thereafter), and Cricket's Muve Music service. Cricket also altered its iPhone service plans to match those it offers with Android smartphones. The base iPhone plan costs $50 per month and includes unlimited talk and text (domestic), 1GB of full-speed data, and Muve Music. iPhone customers can also choose a $60 plan to get 2.5GB of full-seed data and unlimited international messaging, or a $70 plan to get 5GB of full-speed data and unlimited international messaging. All three of these plans include mobile hotspot. The new plans, which went into effect April 21, are available at Cricket stores and select retailers.

Cricket Intros the Kyocera Kona Flip Phone

Apr 17, 2013, 7:17 AM   by Eric M. Zeman   updated Apr 19, 2013, 11:41 AM

Cricket Wireless today announced the Kyocera Kona, a flip phone very similar to Kyocera's Coast for Boost. The Kona can be paired with any of Cricket's low-cost feature phone plans. The Kona runs on Cricket's 1X network and includes a 2.4-inch QVGA internal display, a 1.44-inch external display, a 2-megapixel camera, Bluetooth 2.1+EDR, and a standard stereo headphone jack. The Kona includes a large dialpad for placing calls and large fonts for easier viewing. The Kyocera Kona will be available online and at Cricket stores beginning April 21 for $59.99. Service plans start as low as $35 per month.

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