Cricket Wireless Service – A Good Deal?
Cricket isn’t exactly a household name in wireless service providers. Compared to Verizon, AT&T, Sprint, and T-Mobile they are small fry. But if you’re like a lot of typical phone users and live in a market they serve, Cricket might be a good choice for wireless phone and data services. Cricket has focused on providing much lower prices to customers who make and receive calls in their home region and to give them buckets of unlimited minutes.
Cricket might not be the top choice for those who do a lot of wide-ranging business travel. For them, a national carrier like Sprint, Verizon, and AT&T would likely be better.
But it could be an excellent selection for a wide range of folks who don’t travel a lot including talk-crazed teenagers, college students, school teachers, nannies, stay-at-home parents, small business owners who don’t travel (think of the thousands of mom-and-pop shops in your area), and many other typical mobile phone users.
If you’re willing to strip off voicemail, you can get service for as little as $30 per month for unlimited minutes in your local area. A more reasonable plan with long distance, text and picture messages, and voicemail runs $40 per month.
Cricket doesn’t have contract terms and early termination fees. The downside is that they don’t do much to subsidize the cost of their phones.
Coverage outside of the home region (or “local coverage area” as Cricket calls it) in other Cricket markets can be added for $5 per month. So even if you are a business traveler, if your travels take you mostly to markets served by Cricket and you live on the telephone, it could still be a very good choice. For instance, if you live and work mostly in Chicago but often take trips to Milwaukee, Madison, Rockford, and South Bend, Cricket can cover all of those areas inexpensively even if you talk a couple of hours per day (over 3000 minutes per month) on your cell phone.
Cricket Communications Local Coverage Areas
At the time of this writing, Cricket offers flat-rate unlimited wireless phone and broadband services in these metro areas covering much of the United States. Cricket refers to them as “local coverage areas” to differentiate between the flat-rate unlimited service customers get while in those areas versus roaming charges that apply when completely off of Cricket’s network. Local coverage areas also typically offer 3G wireless broadband services, too.
1. Alabama: Fort Mitchell, Phoenix City, Smiths Station
2. Alaska: no home regions
3. Arizona: Phoenix, Tucson
4. Arkansas: Little Rock, Hot Springs, Pine Bluff, Fayetteville, Fort Smith, Jonesboro
5. California: Fresno, Visalia, Modesto, Merced, San Diego
6. Colorado: Colorado Springs, Denver, Pueblo
7. Connecticutt: no home regions
8. Delaware: no home regions
9. District of Columbia (Washington, D.C.): no home regions yet, coming soon?
10. Florida: most of state covered by “Premium Extended Coverage” plan
11. Georgia: Columbus, Macon, Savannah
12. Hawaii: no home regions
13. Idaho: Boise
14. Illinois: Chicago and its suburbs, Rockford
15. Indiana: Gary, New Albany, South Bend, Indianapolis
16. Iowa: Council Bluffs
17. Kansas: Kansas City, Wichita
18. Kentucky: Lexington, Louisville
19. Louisiana: some of state covered by “Premium Extended Coverage” plan
20. Maine: no home regions
21. Maryland: no home regions
22. Massachusetts: no home regions
23. Michigan: Ann Arbor, Detroit, and some other areas covered by “Premium Extended Coverage” plan
24. Minnesota: no home regions
25. Mississippi: Olive Branch, Southaven, Tunica
26. Missouri: Kansas City, St. Louis
27. Montana: no home regions
28. Nebraska: Lincoln, Omaha
29. Nevada: Las Vegas, Reno, Sparks, Carson City
30. New Hampshire: no home regions
31. New Jersey: no home regions
32. New Mexico: Albuquerque, Las Cruces, Santa Fe
33. New York: Buffalo, Rochester, Syracuse
34. North Carolina: Burlington, Chapel Hill, Charlotte, Greensboro, High Point, Winston-Salem, Raleigh-Durham
35. North Dakota: no home regions
36. Ohio: Akron, Cincinnati, Cleveland, Dayton, Springfield, Toledo
37. Oklahoma: Tulsa, Oklahoma City
38. Oregon: Eugene, Salem, Portland
39. Pennsylvania: Philadelphia (coming soon), Pittsburgh
40. Rhode Island: no home regions
41. South Carolina: Beaufort, Charleston, Rock Hill
42. South Dakota: no home regions
43. Tennessee: Chattanooga, Knoxville, Memphis, Nashville, Clarksville
44. Texas: Austin, Bryan, College Station, Del Rio, Eagle Pass, El Paso, Houston, Killeen, McAllen, San Antonio, Seguin, Temple
45. Utah: Salt Lake City, Provo, Ogden
46. Vermont: no home regions
47. Virginia: some of state covered by “Premium Extended Coverage” plan
48. Washington: Spokane, Vancouver
49. West Virginia: New Cumberland, Wellsburg
50. Wisconsin: Kenosha, Milwaukee, Madison
51. Wyoming: no home regions
The main areas missing from the flat-rate coverage are sparsely populated areas such as North and South Dakota and huge cities such as New York and Los Angeles. It’s tough to make money in regions with few people, so Cricket has focused on bigger markets. Some big markets had too much competition as the RF spectrum licenses for those cities were expensive and heavily bid upon, so Cricket skipped over them. Cricket isn’t a good choice for high usage in those areas as you’re roaming there, but you can still get service.
For $5 more per month, many areas are covered under “Premium Extended Coverage” and move from roaming minutes to the flat-rate unlimited coverage.
Ultimately, Cricket doesn’t make much sense unless you live and work in either a local or premium extended coverage area. But if you do, it could be a bargain.