Leap experimenting with new unlimited broadband plans

Cricket provider Leap Wireless (NASDAQ: LEAP) is conducting market trials for three new unlimited prepaid mobile broadband plans, according to an analyst firm and a company spokesman.

The flat-rate carrier is currently testing the new plans in several markets, and may eventually roll them out nationwide. According to a report by Deepa Karthikeyan of research firm Current Analysis, the company is testing the new plans in several markets out West, including Austin, Texas, Santa Fe, N.M., and San Diego. The new plans break down as follows:

  • A $40 "Basic" plan offering 2.5 GB at a download speed of up to 600 Kbps.
  • A $50 "More" plan offering 5 GB at a download speed of up to 1.4 Mbps.
  • A $60 "Premium plan" offering 10 GB at a download speed of up to 1.4 Mbps.

Leap spokesman Greg Lund confirmed to FierceWireless that the company is testing new offers in a few markets, and that the company regularly does such testing. "The results of the trials will likely result in system-wide service plan changes at a later date," he said. However, he noted that the offerings may be changed or eliminated.

Importantly, Current Analysis pointed out that the plans being tested do not assess overage charges. Instead, users are promised a particular download speed until they reach their monthly data allotment, and afterward their speeds may be decreased. Current Analysis said the plans "add a semblance of choice to the portfolio and allow the carrier to better manage network traffic while increasing its ARPU."

"While Leap can be credited for creating the buzz around non-contract/prepaid mobile broadband service, the carrier has faced intense competition from all quarters since the launch of its groundbreaking $40 unlimited broadband plan a few years ago, compelling it to revisit its portfolio," the report said. Indeed, AT&T Mobility (NYSE: T), Verzion Wireless (NYSE: VZ), T-Mobile USA and Virgin Mobile USA have all launched prepaid mobile broadband services in recent months. Current Analysis said that T-Mobile's $50 Even More Plus mobile data plan at $50 is putting strong pressure on Leap.

T-Mobile said Tuesday it will drop overage charges on its 5 GB monthly webConnect mobile data plan, but noted it will throttle users' speeds if they exceed that limit. The carrier, which is deploying an HSPA+ network this year, also launched a promotional offering for its plans. The 5 GB plan now costs $40 per month and the 200 MB plan now costs $20 per month for existing T-Mobile subscribers.

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