Cricket Wireless has announced several long-overdue changes to its plans. The AT&T-owned brand's wireless plans no longer have any speed caps. All plans are also being granted access to AT&T's 5G network. Cricket's $60 flagship unlimited data plan has had its language updated to say it comes with premium data. The provider is also now boasting of having 12.4 million subscribers.
For years, Cricket has experimented with data speed caps on its wireless plans. Its two bottom-tiered plans with finite amounts of "high-speed data" had long had their download data speeds limited to a maximum of 8Mbps. And for several years, Cricket has offered two unlimited "high-speed data" plans with different maximum data speeds. A lower-tiered plan, from around July of 2017 until 2020 came with data speeds that maxed out at 3Mbps. In 2020, speeds on that plan were increased to 8Mbps. Cricket's other unlimited data plan has not had a speed cap. Now all current plans have had their speed restrictions lifted. Note, some parts of Cricket's website still show the speed cap on the $55 unlimited plan, but today's press release says it's now gone.
5G For All
Last August, Cricket Wireless made 5G network access available exclusively on Cricket's flagship $60 unlimited phone plan and some data-only plans. But that is changing. Customers on any current Cricket phone plan can also now get access to that network as well. Current customers with a 5G compatible phone can expect to see the 5G icon light up on their phones fairly soon. However, customers on discontinued legacy Cricket plans will still only have access to AT&T's LTE network and will have to upgrade to a modern plan if they want 5G access.
$60 Plan Now Has Premium Data
Cricket's $60 unlimited plan, known as the Cricket More plan, has been updated to say it includes "premium data that won't slow based on your data usage." This may or may not just be marketing jargon. Cricket's broadband terms page has been updated to say, "Except for the Cricket More plan, Cricket may temporarily slow data speeds if the network is busy." However, other parts of Cricket's website, such as their plans terms page, still state "Congestion Management on Unlimited Plans. For all data usage, Cricket may temporarily slow data speeds if the network is busy."
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Previously, the $60 plan stated "Unlimited high-speed data access with our fastest speeds (Cricket may temporarily slow data speeds if the network is busy)." BestMVNO has reached out to Cricket representatives to see if data on the plan will no longer slow down when the network is busy thanks to it having "premium data." The post will be updated if/when an answer is received.
Update: A Cricket Wireless representative has confirmed to BestMVNO that data speeds will no longer be slowed on the $60 plan when the network is busy.
Video streaming on all Cricket unlimited high-speed data plans remains restricted to 1.5Mbps or a resolution of about 480p.
Cricket's updated phone plans will help them to better compete in the marketplace. Cricket has long been the only carrier-owned prepaid brand to sell phone plans that have speed caps. Still, it hasn't seemed to matter terribly much. In January of 2019, Cricket announced it had surpassed 10 million subscribers. And in March of 2021, it was announced that Cricket had amassed over 11 million subscribers. Extrapolating the numbers, Cricket grew at a rate of over 38,000 subscribers per month during that time span. And now today, on 10/29/2021, Cricket has announced they have reached 12.4 million subscribers. But competition has changed a bit over the last few months. For instance, Metro by T-Mobile launched a $25 BYOD unlimited high-speed data plan for new customers aimed at getting Cricket and Boost Mobile customers to make the switch. And Verizon Prepaid launched a promotion giving customers that purchase a 5G phone up to $300 off when they activate a new unlimited plan. So Cricket is making a move to better compete in the long term.
I asked Jeff Moore, Principal of Wave7 Research, about what he thought the impact of Cricket's changes would have on the market. He had the following to say: "These changes are not revolutionary, as most top prepaid carriers do not have speed caps and most of them have already added 5G to plans. That said, these are positive changes. Cricket's growth trajectory shows that it is doing a lot of things right and this is an example of that."
I also asked YouTuber Lady Red's Tech Reviews, who is also a Cricket store manager how she felt the plan changes would impact her market area. She replied "I believe this will be a great opportunity for our customers with lower-cost plans to access the full benefits of the 5G network. The full access to 5G is great for those in rural areas where our 5G network reaches farther and runs faster than our competitors."
With the removal of the 8Mbps speed limit on Cricket's plans, only one mainstream AT&T-based provider still has speed caps. H2O Wireless still limits its customers' data speeds to 8Mbps. However, I have a feeling that is about to change.