The first thing I think about when I think about Cricket Wireless — when I think about Cricket Wireless at all — has been the phone carrier's speed cap. Unless you paid for Cricket's most expensive unlimited data plan, the discount carrier capped your speeds, with most plans only able to download data at a maximum of 8 Mbps. That severely limited Cricket's appeal as an alternative to pricier wireless providers.
But Cricket clearly wants to change what you think about its service, as the company is dropping its speed caps on all its plans, while also adding 5G access. Previously 5G had been restricted to the discount carrier's most expensive unlimited plan.
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The end of the speed cap impacts three Cricket plans — the 2GB, $30/month plan, the 10GB, $40/month plan and Cricket's $55/month entry-level option for unlimited data. They join Cricket's $60/month unlimited option in dropping speed caps, though Cricket is reserving the right to slow speeds on the $55 unlimited plan if the AT&T network that it uses becomes congested.
Data speeds had been one area in which Cricket couldn't compete with other discount carriers like Metro By T-Mobile and Visible, which usually offer speeds comparable to those of their parent network, except when network traffic is high. Cricket's 10GB plan compares especially well to a similar offer from Metro by T-Mobile, which also costs $40/month. Cricket customers can knock an additional $5 off their bill by enrolling in autopay.
As mentioned above, Cricket uses AT&T's network, which also owns and operates the discount brand. Testing firm OpenSignal ranked AT&T first for overall download speeds in its July 2021 report, giving the carrier a slight edge over T-Mobile, though the Uncarrier has faster 5G download speeds.
Cricket's higher-end unlimited data plan is getting a boost, too, now that it's no longer the only Cricket plan without a speed limit. Subscribers who opt for the $60/month unlimited plan also get access to the ad-supported tier of HBO Max as well as 15GB of mobile hotspot speed.
With perks that — and no more speed caps — Cricket could soon find itself challenging rival carriers for a place among the best prepaid phone plans.
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Philip Michaels is a Managing Editor at Tom's Guide. He's been covering personal technology since 1999 and was in the building when Steve Jobs showed off the iPhone for the first time. He's been evaluating smartphones since that first iPhone debuted in 2007, and he's been following phone carriers and smartphone plans since 2015. He has strong opinions about Apple, the Oakland Athletics, old movies and proper butchery techniques. Follow him at @PhilipMichaels.