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Cricket iPhone 5 Poses LTE Questions

Thu, 09/13/2012 - 7:29am
Andrew Berg

Cricket Communications announced today it will offer the LTE-capable iPhone 5.

However, Cricket currently only has one LTE market live in the United States, which begs the questions how many of the prepaid carrier's customers will be able to take advantage of the new iPhone's most anticipated feature.  

Cricket was the first prepaid carrier to launch the iPhone 4S and iPhone 4 back in June, but the new model of Apple's iconic device includes LTE, which represents a whole new game for the company. 

While Cricket has said it plans to offer LTE over the next "two to three years to customers in at least two-thirds of its network footprint," covering approximately 21 million POPs in 2012, it still has a long way to go. It has so far only lit up LTE in Tuscon, Ariz. 

Meanwhile, the company has also inked 5-year deal with Clearwire to offer service on that company's planned TD-LTE network. That rollout has yet to begin and will be TD-LTE, a version of LTE technology that the iPhone 5 announced yesterday does not support. 

When reached for comment, a Cricket spokesman said the carrier was still finalizing pricing, plan details and market availability and had no additional information to add at this time.  

Prepaid carriers offering the iPhone is a relatively new phenomena. Cricket was the first in the United States, and it only launched the iPhone 4S on June 22.  Sprint prepaid brand Virgin Mobile USA also began offering the iPhone this summer.

As a no-contract carrier, Cricket isn't able to offer the kinds of subsidies on the iPhone that the larger postpaid carriers do.   

Cricket currently offers the 16GB 4S for $500 and the 8GB iPhone 4 for $400, whereas AT&T and Verizon Wireless offer the iPhone 4S for $200 and the iPhone 4 for $99, respectively. Those prices will remain in effect until general availability of the iPhone 5 on Sept. 21.  

The advantage of paying more for a prepaid iPhone is that carriers like Cricket offer lower monthly rates than do postpaid carriers like Verizon and AT&T. Cricket's iPhone plan runs just $55 per month for unlimited voice, text and data. Data is capped at 2.3 GB. 

 

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