Wednesday, May 7, 2008

CricKet Enters South Texas, Puts AWS Data Card Online

CricKet hasn't been standing by either; they're out in full force in south Texas, and they've put their newest wireless modem online for anyone to buy who wants it...anyone, that is, who lives in an EvDO-enabled area (San Antonio and, it seems, South Texas, aren't).

First of, they're now everywhere Pocket is (or so says their map), reaching down into the Brownsville area, up through Corpus Christi, out to Laredo, into San Antonio, to Austin, I said, they've got all the bases covered. No matter what meaningless gobbledygook they're saying, their target is Pocket. Their plans are comparable, they list Pocket as an eligible carrier for which you'll get $30 back on your new CricKet phone purchase if you bring in one of their old phones, people are switching because they can save $6 a month on service (which I doubt, unless CricKet rolls taxes into their monthly wait...they don't), etc. Sure, CricKet wants to compete with the unlimited plans of the "big boys" who charge $90-$100 per month versus CricKet's $50 or less, but the fact remains that they just moved into an area where Pocket is currently king. Let's see who blinks first...I foresee either crazy price wars on phones and service or Pocket overlaying its network with EvDO before CricKet does the same in the area.

Speaking of overlays, I was incorrect in stating that CricKet's spectrum in south Texas is 1900MHz, like all of their older markets. It's 1700MHz AWS, which might (but probably isn't) be slightly better in terms of reception than the PCS frequencies they normally use (and Pocket uses exclusively for the present) but, more importantly, places CricKet at a disadvantage for the near future when it comes to phone availability and variety in the area. In order for them to offer comparable coverage to Pocket, you have to buy one of three phones. Sure, if you bring in your Pocket phone they're cheaper, but Pocket has 16+ different phone models to choose from across its network, including the Razr v3m (and v3a) as well as the high-end Rokr z6m slider. CricKet probably won't get that calibre of phone for nearly a year. At any rate, things will be quite interesting...

Speaking of EvDO (see the paragraph above the paragraph above this one) CricKet is now allowing people to go online and purchase their new, USB, tri-band (Oklahoma City compatible) aircard, the UTStarCom UM100C. It's a bit bulkier than some other new modems, like Sprint's Sierra Compass (which will work with the Macbook Air's close-quarters port), but it does support Rev. A data speeds (better latency, slightly better downloads, less speed variation, significantly better uploads) and it is compatible with whatever network CricKet will throw at it (namely 1900MHz and 1700MHz).

The only disadvantage of this new modem over the older Kyocera PC card is price: while the Kyocera ends up being $59, the UTStarCom unit is $180, minus $31 if you order online, minus another $50 for a mail-in rebate, for an ending price of $99. Keep in mind that the rebate needs to e sent in before your first month of service is up, and will be processed after you've stayed with CricKet for a month and a half. Just sayin'. By the way, the rebate (and, I assume, data card service at the moment) is limited to Tulsa, Oklahoma City, Albuquerque, Santa Fe, Nashville, Portland, Salem, Eugene, Spokane, Fresno, Modesto/Merced and Visalla. In short, you can't pick up a data card from anywhere CricKet is sold and expect it, or the rebate, to work as of the big regions where this is the case is Texas. How interesting...

1 comment:

Joshua Bailey said...

I've been patiently waiting for cricket to get evdo here in San Antonio so I can purchase a card. I'm almost tempted to go to Sprint and pick one up..