posted on Reddit that Cricket has notified dealers that starting April 2, unlimited plan users will be subject to data deprioritization after they have used 22 GB in a month.
Deprioritization means that any user who has consumed more than 22 GB in the current plan month may see their data speeds reduced when the tower or network segment they are connected to is over loaded. Data speeds should return to normal when the congestion eases. Deprioritization is lifted when a new plan month starts.
The Redditor store manager also says that streaming video will be degraded to 480p quality as a data saving "feature" starting April 2. Users will be able to opt out of 480p video but it will be on by default.
Deprioritization is not new. All four national networks deprioritize their postpaid unlimited plans. Verizon and AT&T deprioritize at 22 GB, Sprint at 23 GB and T-Mobile at 28 GB. Prepaid unlimited plans from T-Mobile, Boost Mobile and MetroPCS are also deprioritized. Cricket's $70 plan seems to be the only one that doesn't currently have a published deprioritization policy. However, all data on Cricket is throttled to 8 Mbps or less so it's all sort of deprioritized.
Maybe Cricket will get rid of the 8 Mbps throttling when the deprioritization policy goes into effect. There's definitely something network related going on at Cricket. Multiple users have reported recently that they were moved to a new voicemail system and that the network proxy server their phones connect to has been changed from one operated by Zayo or XO to an AT&T proxy server. Users who have been switched to an AT&T proxy say that their ping times have been substantially reduced.
I have no idea what sort of speeds deprioritized users will experience on Cricket. It will probably vary depending on how bad the congestion is. Depending on how AT&T handles it, deprioritization may not have a major impact on affected users. I've seen comments from Boost Mobile users saying they use well over 30 GB per month and rarely see any impact from deprioritization.
I'm treating this as a rumor for now but I think it's highly likely to be true. The Redditor posting it is very active and has high post and comment karma. Reading his or her posts they seem knowledgeable about how a Cricket dealership operates. I will update this post as the story develops.
Update 2/24, 8:45 PM PT: Cricket issued a press release today confirming the 480p streaming. Cricket is calling it Stream More and it will be enabled on all Cricket accounts by default, sometime over the next few months. Users will be able to disable Stream More using their MyAccount web page or the MyCricket app. Cricket is also promising to enable VoLTE "in the coming months" and WiFi calling sometime this year. Today's press release made no mention of the rumored deprioritization after 22 GB.
Update 2/26, 8:45 PM PT: Cricket has sent text messages to Cricket customers confirming deprioritization after 22 GB. The text message has a link to a new Mobile Broadband Information page on the Cricket website. According to that page deprioritization and Stream More will be rolled out over several months with the first users receiving the new "features" April 2. The rollout to all users will be complete to all users by October.
Sources: Reddit, HowardForums, Cricket