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Cricket Trades Cheaper Data for Music for All

Cricket Communications Inc. has fired the latest shot in the battle of data pricing, announcing Wednesday it will lower the price of smartphone data and make its unlimited music service available to all Android smartphone owners.

The Leap Wireless International Inc. (Nasdaq: LEAP) subsidiary will begin offering the new pre-paid plans, which lob $5 off the previous options, on Sept. 2. The plans start at $50 for unlimited talk, text and 1GB of 3G data per month and go up to $70 for 5GB of data monthly. Cricket slows down data speeds once the cap is reached, but is introducing new tools for its customers to monitor their usage and buy more data at $10 per 1GB when needed.

Cricket is also extending its popular unlimited music streaming service, Muve Music, to all its Android smartphones plans. The app was previously only available on select handsets as a $10 add-on. (See Cricket's 3G-Friendly Mobile Tunes and Leap Hopes Music Will Muve It Nationwide.)

Why this matters
The U.S. mobile market is bifurcating between carriers offering unlimited data plans and those moving to buckets of bytes. Cricket, meanwhile, is trying something a little different, offering data plans that get throttled when you hit a cap but unlimited music to a user's smartphone.

After a weak second quarter in which it bled subscribers, however, Leap will have to draw a fine line between adding new subscribers and driving up average revenue per user (ARPU). Cricket's Muve Music customers have traditionally been some of its most valuable, and Leap's banking on making up for cheaper data by getting its entire customer base hooked on the music app on the go. (See Leap Wireless Promises Results After Weak Q2.)

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— Sarah Reedy, Senior Reporter, Light Reading Mobile

sarahthomas1011 12/5/2012 | 5:22:36 PM
re: Cricket Trades Cheaper Data for Music for All

I was going to ask the same thing, but I think Cricket's logic is that its music users are higher APRU users, in general. It has said in the past that they tend to do more with their smartphones and consume more data. Maybe they're banking on a lot of overages too? Q2 was so bad for Cricket though, that I don't think it had a choice but to lower prices to stop losing subs.

shygye75 12/5/2012 | 5:22:36 PM
re: Cricket Trades Cheaper Data for Music for All

Sounds like a plan hatched by the pointy-haired boss in Dilbert.

shygye75 12/5/2012 | 5:22:36 PM
re: Cricket Trades Cheaper Data for Music for All

So how do lowered prices for data service and turning a $10 a month service into a freebie result in higher ARPU?

sarahthomas1011 12/5/2012 | 5:22:36 PM
re: Cricket Trades Cheaper Data for Music for All

Plus, the $50 plan (now $5 cheaper) includes less "full-speed data." I'm still convinced it will help - or necessarily simplify things - especially since Muve doesn't count against the cap, but we'll see.

shygye75 12/5/2012 | 5:22:34 PM
re: Cricket Trades Cheaper Data for Music for All

"Looking at the average speed and already being in last place consistently, I would hate to see what they throttle the speeds back to when you go over the cap."

On the Bright Side, customers may not notice the throttle-down too much.

krishanguru143 12/5/2012 | 5:22:34 PM
re: Cricket Trades Cheaper Data for Music for All



Or the users that don’t use much data will see speed increases towards the end of the billing cycles.



Some of the earlier tests in a few cities this year should an average of .1/.2 Mbps for download and upload.  You are already skirting close to dialup speeds and I could only imagine the throttled speeds; hello 9600 or 2400 baud modem.

 

In San Antonio, Cricket has a severe issue with text message performance.

“Cricket, by far, recorded the slowest overall and within network text receive times.”

They were over 120 seconds to receive a text message.

Cricket didn’t fare much better in data performance:

“Cricket recorded an exceptionally slow 0.1 Mbps average upload speed.”

“Cricket recorded download speeds below 1.5 Mbps in 99.1% of our tests.”

“With a significantly high 19.4% data failure rate, Cricket was the least reliable carrier in San Antonio.”







krishanguru143 12/5/2012 | 5:22:34 PM
re: Cricket Trades Cheaper Data for Music for All

 

That is assuming that price was the reason for customers leaving.  Here are some notables about Cricket:

Pittsburgh:

“Cricket recorded the greatest percentage of download and upload speeds below 1.5 Mbps, doing so in 93.4% and 100.0% of our tests, respectively.”

The average download and upload speed on Cricket was .7/.7 Mbps.

Philadelphia:

“Cricket shared last place with MetroPCS in average download speed.”

“Cricket and MetroPCS recorded download speeds below 1.5 Mbps in 85.8% and 85.3% of our tests, respectively.

Additionally, Cricket and MetroPCS recorded upload speeds below 1.5 Mbps in 100.0% and 99.7% of our tests, respectively.”

The average download and upload speed on Cricket was .9/.6 Mbps.

Denver:

“Cricket recorded the greatest percentage of download and upload speeds below 1.5 Mbps, doing so in 99.5% and 100.0% of our tests, respectively.”

The average download and upload speed on Cricket was .2/.6 Mbps.

St. Louis:

“Cricket recorded the greatest percentage of download and upload speeds below 1.5 Mbps, doing so in 95.2% and 100.0% of our tests, respectively.”

The average download and upload speed on Cricket was .7/.6 Mbps.

“Cricket delivered texts in more than one minute 17.2% of the time.”

Cincinnati:

“Cricket’s speeds were significantly slower than those of the national carriers and they finished in last place in all of our data speed tests.”

“Cricket, on the other hand, recorded 91.9% of their download tests below the much slower mark of 1.5 Mbps.”

The average download and upload speed on Cricket was .8/.6 Mbps.

All but Cincinnati were test results from August and Cincinnati was from June.



Looking at the average speed and already being in last place consistently, I would hate to see what they throttle the speeds back to when you go over the cap.





 

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