The target market for prepaid wireless plans is typically cost-conscious customers. So today’s announcement from Cricket that it will offer 5G might be a bit of a nothing-burger, considering that it will require an expensive phone and plan.
Cricket Wireless, the prepaid brand of AT&T, is now offering 5G wherever it’s available across AT&T’s nationwide network. Cricket subscribers can access it via the Samsung Galaxy S20+ 5G smartphone. They’ll need to subscribe to one of Cricket’s unlimited plans, starting at $60 per month, or on the Simply Data plans. Cricket also unveiled a new 100 GB Simply Data rate plan for $90 per month.
Cricket's first 5G capable smartphone costs $1,199.99, which is steep for the typical subscriber of a prepaid phone plan. Wave7 Research’s principal Jeff Moore said the $1,199.99 price “is simply more than prepaid customers are willing to pay.”
Cricket's announcement follows a similar T-Mobile announcement from December 2019 when T-Mobile said that its Metro prepaid brand would include 5G coverage. Moore said today that T-Mobile’s Metro 5G launch “was a nothing-burger, and that’s exactly what I expect from Cricket’s 5G launch.”
“Our checks indicate slow sales of data-only plans from the prepaid carriers,” added Moore. “A plan priced at $90 per month is likely to have few takers.”
Recently, AT&T’s Cricket snagged top billing for full-service prepaid, according to J.D. Power’s 2020 Wireless Purchase Experience Study Volume 2. This was Cricket’s third time ranking first in the category. Satisfaction was measured based on six factors in order of importance: store sales rep; website; phone sales rep; offerings and promotions; store facility; and cost of service.
AT&T said in July that its 5G network is now available nationwide, covering 205 million consumers with an expansion into 40 new markets. The carrier joins T-Mobile as the second to claim nationwide 5G coverage. T-Mobile’s 5G covers 225 million people.
An AT&T TV ad launched on August 10, starring Lily, to proclaim that AT&T 5G is now nationwide. “This Cricket launch is a by-product of that,” said Moore. “And I’d expect AT&T MVNOs to begin touting nationwide 5G at some point as well.”