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Cricket to be First US Prepaid Operator to Offer iPhones - But Only In PCS Markets

Regional operator Leap Wireless announced today that its Cricket Communications prepaid brand will begin offering the iPhone 4S and IPhone on June 22.

The 4S will be priced at $499.99 for the 16 GB model. An 8 GB iPhone 4 will set you back $399.99. Both iPhones will require Cricket's $55/month plan which comes with unlimited voice and messaging and 2.3 GB of data.

Cricket, which has about 6 million customers, operates its own CDMA/EV-DO network in about 35 major metropolitan areas in the US. Though an agreement with Sprint, Cricket operates as a Sprint MVNO in areas where it doesn't have native coverage. As the $55 Unlimited plan is not available in MVNO markets, it appears that the iPhone will only be available for activation in areas with native Cricket service.

Another wrinkle is that in many of its largest makets, including Chicago, San Diego, Philadelphia, Washington DC and Baltimore, Cricket exclusively uses the 1700 Mhz AWS band, which current iPhones do not support.

So without AWS and MVNO markets,  iPhone availability appears to be limited to areas where Cricket has native 1900 Mhz (PCS) services. There's a list on the Cricket site  of the 65 markets where the iPhone will be available June 22.  Many are smaller cities and towns but there are some large cities listed including Denver, Phoenix, Pittsburgh, Houston, Salt Lake City and Kansas City.

The Wall Street Journal's AllThing's D is reporting, that based on SEC filings, Leap has agreed to buy $900 million dollars worth of iPhones or about 2 million devices over the next three years. I hope thay can sell them all.

Apple has long resisted offering the iPhone as a prepaid device in the US. With the postpaid market for iPhones apparently satisfied, the floodgates have been opened and I expect other US prepaid operators will soon have the iPhone too. The likeliest candidates seem to be Sprint's Boost and Virgin Mobile brands and MetroPCS.

13 comments:

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  1. This is the WORST business decision Cricket has ever maid to date. Here is the reason why; If I wanted an iPhone and good service to go with my iPhone and still be prepaid. I would for sure go with Straight Talk and their BYOD SIM program. That way I would be able to run on AT&T's 3G/4G network and still save atleast $100 on the phone by buying the iPhone on Craigslist or Ebay. Used or New. Plus AT&T's network is 110% better then Cricket's tiny and SLOW CDMA network. So why in the hell would you use Cricket over Straight Talk and ST's $45 a month Unlimited Plan? This is the same question I ask people that want to try Virgin/Boost Mobile network out over Page Plus, T-Mobile Monthly 4G and Straight Talk. Cause as of right now, ST, Page Plus and T-Mobile Monthly 4G are the best prepaid options over anyone's else. Fell free to disagree, but please give a good reason.

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    1. Anybody that would pay that kind of money for a iphone then use it on the slowest 3G nationwide network is an idiot. Google PC Mag network speed test if you think I am wrong. Cricket's 3G network is slower then Sprint's.

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    2. hello sean maybe you can help me i want an iphone but i dont want to go with a contract, and i agree cricket is not the way to go> i was with straighttalk at first then i went boost mobile because i wanted a phone to get on facebook. so i bought a blackberry from boost it is not very good. so i thought about going back to straighttalk so could i get an iphone off of ebay and use a striaghttalk or am i misunderstanding you? i am not very phone savy. thanks for your help

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  2. First Page Plus and Straight Talk (tracfone) all operate as MVNO's and do not have their own network. T-mobile does not have 4G as all they have done is allowed customers to download/upload data faster (which all companies that have their own network can do) and that is why you see most companies "throttling". If they can slow it down, they can speed it up. Tmobile says they currently have 4G but when they upgrade to LTE, what is it going to be called 5G? Dont believe the hype! Tracfone just bought Simple Mobile and eventually when all those 'glovebox' customers stop using tracphone, it will fade away just like cricket and metro.

    Cricket will hurt badly with this purchase. Their network is worse that metro and both are in major trouble financially. This is crickets last gasp for air and as soon as Boost/Virgin Mobile get their hands on the iPhone, Cricket will be done just for the reasons you mentioned above!

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    1. "Cricket will hurt badly with this purchase." Did they buy something? They are merely offering a phone for sale. They aren't doing the whole subsidies thing.

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    2. You might want to some research before you post. Boost and Virgin Mobile will never get the iphone. Sprint is losing money on every iphone they sell on contract. They would lose even more money if they put it on prepaid. Cricket's deal with Apple is $900 million for this year. GOOGLE Sprint's Ceo takes pay cut and read how Sprint is losing there shirt on the iphone.

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  3. Boost & Virgin both have 4g now, second iphone to a prepaid is ingenius it gives companies the opportunity to expand the prepaid market by offering the same products as contract...contract providers are struggling to tread water....prepaid is showing continuous growth

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  4. Remember the iPhone is also available with Simple Mobile ( http://www.simplemobile.it ) which has the best deal out of them all with $40 unlimited talk, text, web and international texting all with no contracts and can use any Verizon or AT&T iPhone.

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  5. Hey Guys I read on boostmobile phone buy back they're paying big bucks for iphones?AND less for other phones..

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    1. That makes sense, used iPhones do tend to sell for more than other phones with the same vintage and original price.

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  6. as it is possible to unblock my Iphone 5
    at me it is blocked on the operator of Cricket, whether it is possible to untie it from it on other operator
    I live in Kazakhstan and I can't use it in our country. I bought now lies as Ipod
    help please to me with untying of my phone from the operator

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    Replies
    1. Try doing a network reset (Settings > General > Reset > Reset Network Settings). If that doesn't help try doing a restore in iTunes. If neither help the phone is SIM locked. A third party unlocking service might be able to unlock it

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