Thursday, November 27, 2008

CricKet, MetroPCS Drop Phone Prices

As a quick rundown, Cricket now has two $29.99 phones, the EZ and the Motorola v265 refurb. MetroPCS has dropped the price on the Motorola v3s to $179, the z6m to $249, the Samsung Spex to $79 and maybe a few other phones by $10-$20 though I can't be sure which ones :/. Regardless, cheaper phones = good thing. Though I'd wait until tomorrow to buy; there might be some crazy sale or something, seeing as how it's the biggest shopping day of the year.

ZebraGSM: Unlimited GSM for Cheap

UPDATE: ZebraGSM looks to be a scam. Ech.

As spotted by The Sweeper over on the Go4Prepaid forums, it looks as though we have another MVNO that's both unlimited and GSM. This time the name is ZebraGSM, and the prices are good enough that the outfit should be out of business in about six months...

The plans are good though, so you may want to check them out if you're in ZebraGSM's signup-for-service area, which includes 25 states on teh east and west coasts...

$39.99 - Unlimited local/long distance/calling features (Caller ID, call waiting, 3-way calling, etc.)
$49.99 - $39.99 plan plus unlimited text
$59.99 - $49.99 plan plus unlimited MMS
$69.99 - $59.99 plan plus unlimited web

Family plans are $20 per month extra per line, no matter what plan you add them to.

Phone selection is pretty good, though prices are nowhere to be found. This is because, like many such providers, ZebraGSM farms out sales to dealers. But here's the list (all made by Motorola, interestingly):

SIM-only (good if you have an unlocked 850/1900-capable GSM phone you want to use on the service)
c168i (okay basic phone)
w215 (basic phone with camera, haven't seen before)
v220 (camera flip phone)
L6i (SLVR but cheaper)
Rokr e1 (nothing to see here, move, seriously0
Razr v3 (party like it's 2005)
Rizr z3 (the Razr, spiffed up slider-style0

Note: "unlimited" isn't exactly unlimited here, but for most purposes you're okay here. Minute usage is capped at 10,000 per month, Texts are capped at 30,000 per month, and data is (you guessed it) 5GB per month. Unless you're using your phone as a modem, you should be good to go. Until these guys go out of business, that is...

Still, really good plans while they last. Looks like they're using AT&T's network by the way, so coverage should be good.

Motorola intros VE240, Hint QA30 Coming Soon

In an interesting turn of events, Cricket and MetroPCS have launched a Motorola phone, without a camera, with heavy-duty music playback abilities, at a very competitive price.

By heavy-duty music playback abilities I mean that the Motorola VE240 has dedicated music keyw...and a microSD slot. The descriptiion says that it only supports regular-capacity cards (up to 4GB, though 4GB regular cards are hard to come by), but I've seen a phone or two that has suppored MicroSDHC cards despite ostansibly lacking such the VE240 may also exhibit such behavior. It even supports Stereo Bluetooth, so you can rock out without being tethered to this petite bar phone.

By "very competitive" I mean that this camera-less, small--screen handset is available for $99 on MetroPCS and $119 on Cricket...if you buy bricks-and-mortar. If you go online to grab the VE240, CricKet will let you have it for a clinically insane $49.99. Then again, CricKet tends to price their phones at a loss if they're trying to clear out old models...the dual-band EZ and Motorola v265 are both $30 phones if purchased online.

My verdict? Check this phone out if you don't mind not having a camera built in. If you were going to get a low-end cricKet or metroPCS phone, and were looking for a basic MP3 player, this is the model for you...

Also, it sounds as though the Motorola Hint, a squarish bar phone with a slide-out keyboard, may be coming to Cricket/MetroPCS soon as well...

Thursday, November 20, 2008

CricKet Expands Coverage, Allows Unlimited Roaming, Slashes Phone Prices

First off, CricKet is now in Madison/Milwaukee, WI. Second, they're in the Savannah, GA area...sounds like the area they bought from Hargray awhile back.

The second development coverage-wise: they've contracted with a bevy of other unlimited carriers (MetroPCS...and apparently Pocket...included) to provide unlimited-use roaming coverage in a ton of markets. The usage is voice-only, and you can't buy a CricKet phone and activate it in one of the roaming areas, but it's a nice bonus for areas in whihc Cricket has less than stellar coverage (ahem, Fredericksburg, TX).

Note that CricKet's ew home area coverage is available for PayGO (overpriced prepaid) customers, but the extended-area unlimited coverage is not. 

Also note that MetroPCS did this earlier, and that one of CricKet's unlimited-minutes (no texting or data) roaming partners is in fact MetroPCS, thanks to the agreement they made recently.

If you're wondering about what the new roaming policies can do for you, check CricKet's new coverage maps out here. Hopefully i'll be able to post back with details on exactly who is provising CricKet with "PEC" (Premium extended Coverage), so you know exactly which fourteen coverage maps you should look at to get a better idea of where you'll be having service now.

UPDATE 1: I've narrowed down the unlimited provider in Kansas to NexTech Wireless. Also, I'm 99.9% sure that Pocket is a roaming partner. With metroPCS, we're up to three out of the fourteen roaming partners present and accounted for. If you have any ideas as to the other eleven, post a comment!

Monday, November 10, 2008

MetroPCS Revamps TravelTalk, Allows For Free CricKet Roaming

MetroPCS is putting their agreement with CricKet into You still can't call MetroPCS's coverage monolithic by any stretch, but they now have "300 cities" covered either directly or via free roaming on CricKet's network. The downside: you need a $45 or $50 per month plan to take advantage of this additional roaming, and the only things you'll be able to do are talk and text...but they'll both be unlimited. Also, if you're in Texas, between MetroPCS and CricKet a large portion of the state is covered, albeit with a lot of AWS towers so make sure you have a newer, AWS-equipped phone or you won't get the best coverage.

Speaking of unlimited text, if you have unlimited text messaging on your metroPCS plan within their (and now CricKet's) coverage areas, ou can now send and receive an unlimited number of text messages, even while roaming, at no additional charge. Voice minutes are still either 49 or 79 cents each, however, and rome roaming carriers don't support text messaging, though that number is decreasing to near nil now.

The limited nature of the CricKet roaming agreement is disappointing, but unlimited voice and text in an expanded area, mated with unlimited text messaging practically everywhere, is a very, very nice upgrade for MetroPCS.

Pocket Intros News Website, Northeast Coverage

A few days ago, Pocket Communications introduced a new website. The site spreads information out somewhat versus the older layout, however it does look nice and modern.

More importantly, the site announces a new service area: the Northeast. Pocket has had spectrum in that area for awhile, and is now building a network in the area, most likely the same CDMA 1x system used in Texas.

Phone pricing and selection for this new market is uncertain as of yet, but plan information is already available. You get the same plans as are available in Texas, but at a $5 per month premium, which is still a low price compared with other unlimited providers for similar service.

One other thing: the website redesign slimmed down Pocket's pone lineup. Here are the models that remain:

Kyocera M1000 - $199 (minus a $20 mail-in rebate)
Kyocera E2000 - $199 (minus a $50 mail-in rebate)
Kyocera K342 - $139 (minus a $40 mail-in rebate)
Kyocera K132 - $49 (including a $30 "internet discount)
Motorola Rokr z6m - $299
Moto Razr v3a - $169
Moto w385 - $149
Moto e815 - $119
UTStarCom 8935 - $119

It looks like Pocket may soon be selling phones online (but not yet), based on the Kyocera K132's "internet discount". Or it could be "instant discount" and not matter...

Out of all of these phones, the Kyocera E2000 and the Motorola e815 seem to be the best deals right now. If you want more features in a newer phone, pick the Kyocera. If you want a more solid handset at a lower price, the Motorola e815 is a great choice.

Boost To Offer Unlimited Nationwide iDEN Service

Looks like the economy has gone south, and as such Sprint can't find anyone to buy their iDEN Nextel unit. So they've decided to overload the network...erm...offer unlimited iDEN-powered service nationwide in the near future. No idea as to the price yet, other than analysts' predictions of $60-with-voice-and-text. I'm thinking more expensive, along the lines of Virgin mobile, with voice, maybe text and walkie talkie...