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.
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.
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.
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 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 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 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 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 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 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 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 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 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 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 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.
Samsung today announced that the Galaxy S 4 will be available from seven different wireless network operators before the end of April. The four national carriers, AT&T, Sprint, T-Mobile USA, and Verizon Wireless, as will smaller carriers U.S. Cellular, Cricket, and C Spire, will each have customized variants of the device specific for their 4G LTE and 3G networks. Samsung said that individual carriers will announce exact availability and pricing during the course of the next few weeks. In addition to carrier availability, the GS4 can also be purchased at various electronics stores, including Best Buy and Best Buy Mobile, Costco, Radio Shack, Sam's Club, Staples, Target, and Wal-Mart. The Galaxy S 4 has a 5-inch FHD display, 1.9GHz quad-core processor, 13-megapixel camera, Android 4.2.2 Jelly Bean, and tons of Samsung software, including Air View and Air Gesture, Drama Shot and Eraser Shot, and Easy Mode and a customizable notification tray. Last, Samsung revealed a few more details about accessories for the GS4. The S View Flip Cover has a window through which GS4 owners can read text messages, answer or reject calls, and view the battery status. The S View Flip Cover, which is sold separately, retails for $59.99. Availability details of the cover were not shared.
The FCC today approved Sprint's version of Samsung's flagship Galaxy S 4 phone. The approval documents show support for GSM and WCDMA, in additional to Sprint's CDMA and LTE networks, indicating that the phone is intended to have global roaming capability. Last year's Galaxy S III for Sprint was the only Galaxy S III for a top-tier carrier without global roaming. The FCC also approved the Galaxy S 4 variant for U.S. Cellular (and, most likely, Cricket); it does not appear to support overseas networks.
Cricket Wireless recently made the ZTE Engage LT available for sale via its web site. The Engage LT is a stripped-down version of the Engage, and includes entry-level specs for an Android smartphone. The Engage LT features a 1GHz processor with 1GB of RAM and 4GB of internal storage; a 4-inch WVGA display; a 3.2-megapixel main camera and VGA user-facing camera; and Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich. The device is compatible with Cricket's Muve Music service and includes SRS WOW HD sound and supports microSD cards up to 32GB. The Engage LT costs $179.99 after discounts when purchased from MyCricket.com. The original Engage, which debuted in 2012, is still available from Cricket and offers better specs (1.4GHz processor, 8-megapixel camera) for the same $179.99 price point.
Cricket Wireless today said that it plans to separate its Muve Music service from its main wireless business and offer it other companies that might wish to license it. Cricket already has one licensee ready to access the service, though it did not name that company. According to a Cricket executive, the spin-off entity would offer Muve Music as a white-label service, running all the functionality behind the scenes while allowing the licensee to rebrand it as their own service and charge their own fees. Muve Music is used by about 1 million of Cricket's customers, as it is bundled into the top-tier Cricket smartphone plan. Cricket did not say when Muve Music will officially become its own company.
According to documents seen on the Federal Communications Commission web site, the HTC One SV may soon be sold by Sprint. The FCC recently approved an HTC device with the model number PL80110. This is nearly identical to the model number of HTC One SV for Cricket Wireless, which is PL80120. HTC has a very consistent internal model number scheme for its devices. Based on that scheme, the PL80110 and PL80120 are most likely variants of the same device or chassis. Additionally, the PL80110 approved today supports CDMA and LTE spectrum used only by Sprint. However, one page of a single document in the FCC's filings refers to the PL80110 as a "Windows Phone." The model number and Windows Phone reference conflict with one another. The FCC documents do not include images of the PL80110 to make a direct comparison between the One SV for Cricket or any other device. Neither Sprint nor HTC have announced a variant of the One SV, nor has HTC announced any new Windows Phones for any carrier.
HTC's One SV is a high-end handset for prepaid provider Cricket. Though slated for the prepaid market, it's quite the looker and would do fine at any major carrier.
Cricket Wireless and HTC today announced the One SV, a new Android smartphone for the pre-paid provider. The One SV, which runs Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich with Sense 4.0, follows in the One Series footsteps with its simple design and features. It has a 4.3-inch Super LCD 2 display that is protected by scratch- and fingerprint-resistant Gorilla Glass. The One SV is powered by a dual-core 1.2GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon S4 processor. The main camera rates 5 megapixels and has an f/2 lens with backside illumination for better low-light performance. It can capture video at 1080p HD, as well as take still images while recording video. The front camera rates 1.6 megapixels and has an f/2.2 lens. Other features include Beats Audio, LTE 4G, support for 32GB microSD cards, NFC, and HTC's new Sync Manager software. The HTC One SV is exclusive to Cricket Wireless. It will be available online and in stores beginning January 16 for $349.99.
Cricket Wireless and MetroPCS have both begun offering handset financing programs that allow customers to pay off cell phone purchases over time. Both companies are working with a firm called Progressive Finance, which pays the carrier for the handset and then collects payments from the subscriber for their phone. According to Cricket Wireless, its financing program will cover up to 90% of the cost of a handset and then allow customers to pay for it over a maximum of nine months. Leap's Tyler Wallis, senior vice president of marketing and product development said, "We're really excited about it. Consumers are really excited about our rate plans, but they're struggling with the fact that an iPhone 5 is $500 upfront." MetroPCS did not provide details concerning its financing plan. In either case, the financing company does not perform a credit check. Cricket Wireless and MetroPCS do not require contracts. T-Mobile USA recently announced the end of device subsidies. Its program works differently in that customers make a downpayment on the cost of their cell phone up front and then make a monthly payment for it to T-Mobile throughout the life of their service contract.
Cricket Wireless today announced the ZTE Groove, a new Android smartphone that includes its Muve Music service. The Groove has a 3.5-inch HVGA display, an 800MHz processor, a 3.2-megapixel camera main camera with flash, and a VGA user-facing camera. The device runs Android 2.3 Gingerbread and costs $129.99, though it is available via Cricket's web site for $79.99. Muve Music smartphone plans start at $50 per month. The ZTE Groove does not require a contract.
The HTC Desire C is a wee little smartphone for Cricket Wireless. This thing may be small in size, but it's still got plenty to offer. Here are our first impressions.
Leap Wireless, the parent company of Cricket Wireless, made some changes to its executive ranks today. According to Leap, it is making the changes to ensure that the company has the right leadership to help it execute its long-term business plans. Jerry Elliott, who has been with the company less than a year, has been promoted to president and chief operating officer. Perley McBride has been promoted to executive vice president and chief financial officer, a position vacated by Elliott. Anne Liu has been appointed senior vice president and chief accounting officer. Elliott and Liu assume their new roles immediately, while McBride is expected to assume his in December. Cricket Wireless recently announced its first LTE smartphone, the LG Optimus Regard, and expanded the reach of its LTE 4G network to eight new markets, covering a total of 21 million POPs.
Cricket Wireless today announced a significant expansion of its nascent LTE 4G network. Its 4G service is already available in Las Vegas and Tucson. Those markets are joined today by Philadelphia, Phoenix, Houston, San Antonio, Austin, Laredo, Corpus Christi, and the Brownsville-McAllen-Harlingen area of Texas. Cricket says this expansion ups its LTE coverage to 21 million POPs. The company also launched two new LTE smartphones, the LG Optimus Regard and the Samsung Galaxy S III. The Regard is available starting today for $249.99. The GSIII will launch in several weeks, and will cost $549.99. Cricket's new LTE plans start at $50 per month and include unlimited talk and text, and 2GB of 3G and/or 4G data.
Cricket today announced the addition of two Android smartphones to its lineup. The LG Optimus Regard is a rebadged version of the LG Motion 4G, which is sold by MetroPCS. The Regard features a 3.5-inch display with 480 x 320 pixels, a 1.2GHz dual-core processor, 5-megapixel main camera, and VGA user-facing camera. It ships with Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich and is the first smartphone to support Cricket's LTE 4G network. It is available starting today online and in stores for $249.99. Cricket also said the Samsung Galaxy S III will be available in the coming weeks. It will cost $549.99.
Cricket Wireless today announced the availability of the HTC Desire C. The Desire C is an Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich smartphone that includes HTC's Sense 4.0 user interface. The Desire C has a 3.5-inch HVGA display, 5-megapixel camera, Muve Music, and Beats Audio. It comes with Dropbox, which provides 25GB of online storage. The Desire C is being sold for $179.99 and can be purchased without a contract. It is available online and in stores starting today.
Cricket Wireless has ceased offering its daily PAYgo prepaid plans. Cricket spokesperson Greg Lund confirmed the change to Fierce Wireless, and said the plans were cancelled on October 21. Current customers of Cricket's daily PAYgo plans may remain on those plans for the foreseeable future. Lund said the company dropped the daily PAYgo plans so it could concentrate on its monthly PAYgo business. The monthly PAYgo plans start at $25 and range up to $60 depending on services and usage.
Cricket Wireless today officially announced the Samsung Comment II, which is a rebadged version of the Freeform 4 (sold by U.S. Cellular). The Comment II has a QWERTY keyboard for messaging, 480MHz processor, Bluetooth 2.1, and a 2-megapixel camera. The Comment II costs $89.99, and is available at both Cricket-owned and dealer stores.
Cricket Wireless today announced that LTE 4G service is now up and running in the Las Vegas market. Las Vegas marks the second LTE market for Cricket, which first launched in Tucson, Ariz., on a trial basis last year. According to Cricket, about 80% of the Las Vegas area has access to its LTE service. The company plans to cover 21 million POPs with LTE by the end of this year, and two-thirds of its current CDMA network footprint by the end of 2015. The only LTE device available is Huawei-made Boltz USB modem. Leap has not said when LTE-capable phones will become available. LTE data plans range from $35 to $80 per month.
Alltel Wireless recently announced the addition of the Alcatel One Touch Ultra 960C to is lineup. The One Touch Ultra is a variant of the Alcatel Authority, which is sold by Cricket Wireless. The One Touch Ultra has a large, 4.3-inch WVGA display, 5-megapixel camera with 720p video capture, and runs Android 2.3 Gingerbread. It is powered by a single core 1.4GHz processor, includes the Swype virtual keyboard, and Bluetooth 3.0. The One Touch Ultra is available for $19.99 with a new two-year agreement, or $199.99 with one of Alltel's No Contract plans.
Samsung recently revealed that that R390, which is sold as the Freeform 4 by U.S. Cellular, will also be sold as the Comment II (R390C) by Cricket Wireless. It has a QWERTY keyboard for messaging, Bluetooth 2.1, and a 2-megapixel camera. Pricing has yet to be revealed.
T-Mobile USA, Leap Wireless, and Savary Island have finalized a spectrum swap that was announced earlier this year. Under the terms of the deal, Leap has acquired 10MHz of AWS spectrum in Phoenix, Ariz., and Houston, Galveston, and Bryan-College Station, Texas. In exchange, Leap Wireless and its subsidiary Savary Island gave T-Mobile and Cook Inlet spectrum in various markets in Alabama, Illinois, Missouri, Minnesota, and Wisconsin. The deal also includes intra-market swaps between Leap, T-Mobile, and Cook Inlet in Philadelphia, Wilmington, Atlantic City and several markets in Texas and New Mexico. In addition to these spectrum exchanges, Leap Wireless announced that Cricket Wireless has acquired the remaining outstanding equity in Savary Island, making it a wholly owned subsidiary of Cricket Wireless.