Cricket's Van Buskirk: We are prepared to fight for customers

LAS VEGAS--AT&T Mobility's (NYSE: T) Cricket prepaid brand is ramping up its retail presence and preparing to aggressively fight for customers, even if that means quickly making adjustments to its rate plans to respond to competitive pressures.

In an interview with FierceWireless, Cricket President Jennifer Van Buskirk said that the company has opened hundreds of stores in the three and a half months since it revamped its offering with new price plans, a new tagline and and a new store design. In addition, the company announced that it will start selling its service along with smartphones and accessories in more than 2,800 GameStop retail stores nationwide beginning next month. The deal is exclusive to Cricket, meaning that GameStop will not be selling any competitive wireless offerings at its stores.

Van Buskirk touted the GameStop deal, particularly the fact that it offers a buy-sell-trade program that will enable customers to sell their existing phones, video-game systems and other electronic devices to GameStop and use the credit to buy a Cricket smartphone or accessory. She also said that Cricket and GameStop have similar customer bases -- a younger, tech-savvy demographic group that wants the latest games and the latest wireless devices.

To that end, Cricket also announced that it will be one of the first to launch the HTC Desire 410, an LTE smartphone priced at $149.99. The phone will be available in Cricket stores and online starting Sept. 19. It will be available shortly after that in all GameStop stores.

Van Buskirk also said that Cricket has made great strides in converting Cricket CDMA customers to AT&T's GSM network. Since AT&T purchased Cricket Wireless from Leap Communications for $1.2 billion earlier this year, the company has been working hard to entice customers off the legacy CDMA network and onto AT&T's nationwide GSM network so it can phase out the CDMA network. "We are exceeding expectations when it comes to the migration from CDMA to GSM," Van Buskirk said.

Although she acknowledged that the competitive landscape for wireless service providers has become intense lately, Van Buskirk said that Cricket is prepared to fight for customers, even if that means quickly making adjustments to its rate plans and offers. "We will get aggressive and fight for customers," she said. "We will do what we need to do to win customers."

As an example, she referred to the company's current offer in which it will give customers of T-Mobile US (NYSE:TMUS) and its MetroPCS prepaid unit a $100 bill credit to switch to Cricket. The promotion, which was introduced in late August, will run until Oct. 19 and was introduced just a day after T-Mobile said it will give any customer on its Simple Choice plans unlimited LTE data for a year if they bring a new customer to T-Mobile. (T-Mobile said it will give those Simple Choice customers who already have unlimited data a $10-a-month credit for a year.)

 For more:
- See this press release

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