The major wireless carriers may be pushing their subscribers away from unlimited data plans toward tiered data, but prepaid carriers haven't gotten the memo. Cricket Wireless became the latest discount carrier to roll out an unlimited plan to mobile phone users who prefer the flexibility of prepaid phone service.
Starting Sunday (April 17), Cricket will offer a $70-a-month plan offering unlimited data along with unlimited talk and text. As with its other plans, Cricket offers a $5 monthly discount for enrolling in automatic payments, which would reduce the cost of its monthly unlimited plan to $65. Cricket is taking aim at T-Mobile with its unlimited plan, as it's offering a $100 credit to T-Mobile subscribers who switch over to its service.
With its unlimited plan, Cricket joins the ranks of Boost Mobile and Metro PCS as prepaid carriers with unlimited data options. Both those carriers charge $60 a month for their unlimited data plans. Like Cricket, Boost offers a $5 discount for enrolling in auto-pay, bringing its monthly charge to $55.
In announcing the unlimited offer, Cricket touted the reach of its network. Cricket is an AT&T subsidiary and uses the network of its parent company to provide wireless service. However, in our 4G network testing last year, Cricket not only recorded the slowest LTE speeds but its performance was significantly slower than what we measured for AT&T.
MetroPCS, a T-Mobile-owned subsidiary, was also slower than its parent network, but it turned in the best performance among prepaid carriers in our speed tests. Boost's 4G speeds were about the same as its parent company, Sprint, though Sprint's performance typically lags the other major carriers.
While prepaid carriers have added unlimited options in recent months — Boost launched its unlimited plan last fall — it's harder to get unlimited data from the four major carriers. T-Mobile still offers a $95-a-month unlimited plan while Sprint currently charges $75 a month for unlimited data. As for AT&T's plans, only AT&T subscribers who also get either DirecTV or U-Verse TV service can sign up for unlimited data.