Cricket Wireless is one of many prepaid options sold to customers who are disgruntled with either a pricey plan from one of the major networks or infrequent cellphone users who do not need to pay extra for plans with excessive data or other features.
Cricket is owned by AT&T and uses the same network which is considered one of the best in the world. The company was founded in 1999, and sold to AT&T in 2014. Cricket offers both individual and family plans.
Along with the affordability of Cricket’s wireless plans, the service also is well regarded because of its partnership with AT&T. Unlike other MVNO providers (Tracfone, Net10, Straight Talk, etc), Cricket does not roam for various networks but is rather exclusive to AT&T.
AT&T is renown for providing strong coverage, speed, reliability and call clarity, especially in urban settings. The service translates well to Cricket, but the provider does suffer from the traditional “depriorization” common to MVNOs as well as the 8 Mbps cap Cricket places on its speed (more on that later).
Depriorization means that MVNOs take second to priority to people in the same area using AT&T’s direct service. Basically, AT&T is going to take care of the customers who pay more through the actual carrier though Cricket is still relatively dependable for an MVNO.
The selection of phones for a budget phone service is actually pretty good. Cricket usually takes a little longer to get the latest smartphones in their inventory but that is to be expected. They sell phones on Android, Windows and iOS operating systems. It is also possible to bring your own phone from another provider, just make sure you check compatibility on CricketWireless.com.
The provider has a number of deals offered regularly through CricketWireless.com, and includes a number of phone add-on such as Cricket Protect ($7 p/ month), Cricket International ($5 to $15 p/ month), extra GB of data and mobile hotspot.
Along with plans that have restrictions on data usage, Cricket does feature two different unlimited data alternatives which is a little unusual for a MVNO carrier. Furthermore, the unlimited data plans are advertised at a very reasonable rate though the speeds should be noted. The “Unlimited” plan only provides speeds of 3 Mbps, which is slower than average though “Unlimited Extra” is more in line at 4G LTE.
Plans start at $25 p/ month for talk and text only, and $30 p/ month for unlimited talk and text as well as 2GB of high speed data. From there you customers can spend more for 4GB of data or even invest in unlimited data at $55 and $60, respectively.
Data increments are also available at $10 p/ GB. Also, 8GB of hotspot is available at the same price. Like a lot of carriers, customers that enroll in autopay will receive a $5 discount on their monthly bill.
Cricket also has affordable rates for family plans. For example, a family of four can get unlimited talk, text and data for around $100. While this is a great deal, be reminded that because of Cricket’s cap on speed and data depriorization that begins at 22GB — slower performance is to be expected with the more lines you add.
According to Cricket, families can save up to $70 a month when you have five lines on the Group Save program. Inquiry for more details.
Affordability is the primary selling point to Cricket, which is not a bad concept to model your operation after. If you have used AT&T in the past but got disgruntled with their high monthly rates than Cricket is a solid alternative.
It is based on a very reliable U.S. network with a strong reputation and decent customer service. You could do a lot worse.
The primary concern with Cricket is the unfortunate speed cap at 8 Mbps. It should be noted that most other budget plans through providers like MetroPCS and Boost Mobile do not authorize similar caps though they all suffer from the depriorization of standard mobile virtual network operators (MVNOs).
However, if you use limited to no data and just need a cellphone to call and text with, Cricket is a good all-in-one solution.
Instead of AT&T opting to provide their own “budget” plan through their own network, they opted to purchase Cricket (which already had a decent reputation as a prepaid option) and offer their network through them. The speed cap seems unnecessary, but aside from that it’s a good service.