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.