Monday, March 31, 2008

MetroPCS and CricKet, Meet Vegas and Oklahoma City!

Looks like 2006's AWS spectrum purchases are finally being used.

CricKet's Oklahoma City coverage, with a whopping 98 cell sites, five corporate-owned stores and 58 other vending locations for the service, will turn into flat-rate cell service on April 8th.

MetroPCS, on the other hand, is already selling their 1700MHz-powered service in Las Vegas, both online and at sixty different retail points, with four corporate stores opening in July.

What's interesting is that MetroPCS has slimmed down their phone lineup considerably on its regular offerings over the last week or so, with a few more subtractions that I saw today. The price on the two lowest-end phones, the Samsung r300 and the UTStarCom 1450 (aka Super Slice), may have dropped a bit, to $109 and $129 respectively, but there were phones as low as $89 before...and the lineup is now slimmed to ten phone models.

At least the lineup seems to be slimmed until you actually try to buy a phone, at which point the three new phone models that are built for the new AWS service MetroPCS has in Vegas show up, for thirteen total models for all "regular" areas and three (yep, just three, but it's a start) for the new AWS area.

There are two $99 phones, the Samsung Spex Bluetooth bar phone and the UTStarCom 7126 Bluetooth-enabled flip. $50 more gets you a 1.3 megapixel cameraphone, also with Bluetooth (the Samsung MyShot, which is otherwise quite basic).  Yes, you'll be seeing these same phones on CricKet (with the possible addition of the Motorola Razr v3s) when their AWS service comes out in a little over a week, and yes I have a hunch about the Bluetooth capability coinciding with handsfree laws or something like that. Plus, if you've got a Bluetooth phone then MetroPCS can sell you another $35-$50 accessory...

In other news, MetroPCS seems to have discontinued the Chinese-made phones from ZTE and Huawei, I'm supposing due to customer non-brand-awareness and rather low quality. Pretty quick run, I'd say, for a phone on the market. CricKet still has the CompCal EZ in its lineup, but I'll bet they'll drop it soon with the quality concerns people have been\will be voicing, in addition to the utter lack of features on the unit. Plus, it can't do AWS.

More AWS news coming on the 8th, maybe sooner but definitely on the 8th, when CricKet launches their service "4 realz" in Oklahoma City...

...WAIT! Looks like CricKet will also be getting into the Las Vegas area cell-service-wise. This will be intersting to watch, since MetroPCS and CricKet have tended to avoid each other when deciding where to put their cell service. We'll see what happens...

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