AT&T’s prepaid subsidiary, Cricket Wireless, has long been a solid option for those looking for maximum coverage at a relatively low price, who don’t mind slower data speeds. Starting January 27, the company will raise high-speed data allowances across several of its plans, according to a news release.
Under the new terms, customers at the $40/month Basic tier and the $60/month Pro tier will see allotments rise to 3GB and 12GB, up from 2.5GB and 10GB respectively. Additionally, Cricket is locking in an existing promotion that raised the data limit from 5GB to 8GB for its $50/month Smart customers. Going forward, 8GB will be standard at that price level, making it the best data-per-dollar value proposition of all of Cricket’s plans.
Customers can save if they enroll in auto pay with the carrier, which credits them $5 a month at the end of each billing cycle. Cricket is also offering discounts on select phones, including the LG Stylo 2, for new customers who bring their numbers with them. The full list of sales is available here.
As always, all this cheap data comes at a price — and for Cricket, that means capped data speeds. “High-speed data,” which the company defines as LTE and HSPA+, is limited to 8Mbps and 4Mbps, respectively. After you run through your allotment, you’re stuck at 128Kbps for the rest of the month, unless you up your plan.
While that’s not a massive inconvenience compared to the 12Mbps AT&T’s post-paid customers reportedly average, the policy has stayed unchanged for years, even as Cricket continues to routinely increase data allowances. In fact, Cricket has been throttling high-speed data at 8Mbps since 2013, when AT&T founded the company as Aio. That was before it merged the brand with Cricket in 2014 after acquiring Leap Wireless. Back then, LTE wasn’t capable of quite the same kind of speeds we’re seeing today, nor was it as widely available.
As AT&T maintains the 8Mbps cap for Cricket customers — in all likelihood to nudge them toward its more expensive flagship service — a core part of its user base is getting increasingly left behind in the dust. This divide will only be exacerbated once carriers begin rolling out 5G networks, as they are expected to next year. Hopefully, AT&T has an upgrade waiting in the wings for its prepaid contingent.
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