Now that T-Mobile is going away, I wanted to focus on some of the value carriers that are beginning to embrace Android. Cricket Wireless started offering their first Android phone last August and soon their lineup will grow to five handsets. This bargain carrier operates the seventh largest network in the US with coverage in all 50 states and offers no-contract, flat-rate plans. Could Cricket be your next carrier? Read on after the jump to see what they are up to.
LG Optimus C
This week Cricket started selling the LG Optimus C for $129 after a $50 mail in rebate. The Optimus C is one of the cheapest Android phones around, but it is also one of my favorite entry-level models. Virgin Mobile has been selling the same phone since last month and it has been so popular that it sold out everywhere.
Cricket’s Android plans start at $55 per month, but that includes unlimited everything and there is no contract to sign. We would like to see some lower tiered plans for Android (like Virgin’s $25 per month), but it still beats the unlimited offerings of all the post-paid carriers.
Huawei Ascend 2 and Samsung Indulge
Most of Cricket’s Android phones have been on the low-end, but that is about to change soon. This week at CTIA, Cricket showed off their version of the Samsung Indulge which features a 1 GHz Hummingbird processor. It is similar to a Galaxy S in terms of specs, but it features a smaller non-AMOLED 3.5 inch display. MetroPCS recently started selling a 4G version of the phone for $399, but Cricket’s model will only be 3G so it should be priced lower.
Cricket is also planning a sequel to the Huawei Ascend that they launched back in October. The Huawei Ascend 2 will feature an upgraded 800 MHz CPU and 5 megapixel camera, plus Cricket is promising to debut the device at a sub-$150 price like the original.
For more information on Cricket’s upcoming phones, check out the hands-on report from Chris Ziegler over at Engadget.
4G Roaming Agreement with LightSquared
Finally Cricket announced they had signed a 4G roaming agreement with LightSquared, who is launching their LTE network in the second half of 2011. Cricket plans to deploy its own LTE networks over the next few years, but it will use LightSquared to supplement its coverage.
LightSquared will have their LTE network up and running in limited markets this year and it will cover at least 100 million Americans by December 31, 2012; 145 million by the end of 2013; and 260 million by the end of 2015.
Cricket will start LTE trials in the second half of 2011, followed by some LTE “hotspot” networks in early 2012, and full LTE market launches in the second half of 2012.