AT&T’s Cricket intros $30/month plan to challenge MetroPCS, Boost Mobile

The Alcatel Streak is one of the smartphones AT&T's Cricket will be offering for free.

AT&T’s Cricket Wireless prepaid brand today announced a new $30 per month plan that will allow the carrier to match the entry-level price offered by its closest competitors, T-Mobile’s MetroPCS and Sprint’s Boost Mobile.

Starting tomorrow, AT&T’s Cricket will offer unlimited talk and texting and 1 GB of high-speed data for $30 per month. That price includes all monthly taxes and fees. Previously Cricket’s cheapest plan was a $40 per month offering that offered 2.5 GB of high-speed data.

Cricket’s new plan exactly matches the lowest-price, entry-level plans offered by MetroPCS and Boost Mobile. Both of those prepaid brands also offer 1 GB of high-speed data alongside unlimited talking and texting for $30 per month.

Apart from the new plan, Cricket is also offering a trio of free smartphones: The Alcatel Streak, ZTE Sonata 3 or Kyocera Hydro VIEW. Interestingly, Cricket is also offering an “open enrollment” period for its Cricket Protect device protection plan, which costs $7-10 per month. The offer is available for customers who did not sign up for the service when they first purchased their phone. The open enrollment opportunity also extends to Cricket’s BYOD customers who own an iPhone 6, 6 Plus, 6s, 6s Plus, SE or Samsung S7, the company said.

Cricket’s latest pricing action clearly positions the company directly against the prepaid plays by T-Mobile and Sprint. And it’s likely geared toward juicing AT&T’s third quarter prepaid customer acquisition efforts.

AT&T’s prepaid business, which stretches across its GoPhone and Cricket brands, stands as a major driver for the company. In the second quarter, the company reported branded domestic phone net adds – both postpaid and prepaid – of 185,000, which the company attributed to the strength of its Cricket brand. Specifically, AT&T said it lost 10,000 total subscribers during the second quarter, with 72,000 postpaid net adds and 365,000 prepaid subscriber net adds mostly offsetting losses of 446,000 reseller subscribers.

However, during the second quarter, Cricket suffered a major network outage, which executives blamed on an unnamed vendor’s equipment. The company subsequently offered affected users a $5 credit.

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