Cricket Going National; Taking Android Phones Along for the Ride

Cricket Communications is moving from a prepaid, select-market carrier reaching only one-third of the nation to a prepaid national service thanks to a wholesale agreement signed with Sprint today. The five year contract will allow Cricket to market to customers nationwide as a Sprint MNVO. Much like the agreements Sprint has with Virgin Mobile and Boost Wireless.

"Our goal is to become the leading prepaid, value provider of consumer wireless voice and data services nationally," Cricket's chief executive Doug Hutcheson said.

Cricket plans to offer less talk/text only phones and moving towards more full-featured phones. They've announced two Android based smartphones, The Kyocera Zio, and a yet-to-be-named phone from Huawei. The Blackberry Curve 8530 and a Samsung touchscreen round out the new lineup, with more announcements on the way. There are also talks of sub-$200 Android tablets, and a music download service named musiK later next year.

The company will still offer the same unlimited voice, text, data they offer now, but are pricing the plans based on the type of phone in use. Regular featured phones will be $35 and $45 a month, Android phones $55, and Blackberry phones will be $60 a month. "In postpaid ... you've got to sign up to a $100 to $150 rate plan to get an Android device," Toig said. "If we come into the market with these services and these devices at these prices, we've got an opportunity to be very disruptive," he said.

All of Cricket's plans look to happen sometime during the second half of 2011, when they will not only offer phones and service in their own stores, but big boxes like Target, Best-Buy, and Wal-Marts around the country.

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