MetroPCS undercuts Cricket with 4 unlimited lines for $100 a month

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MetroPCS's latest promotion highlights an increasingly competitive prepaid market.

MetroPCS is targeting Cricket users with a promotion offering four lines of unlimited data for $100 a month. And the carrier is throwing in free phones as well.

The prepaid brand from T-Mobile said any new or existing customer who adds at least one new line of service can get four lines of unlimited talk, text and LTE data for $100 including taxes and fees. A single line still costs $50, and two lines are available for $80.

The move significantly undercuts AT&T’s Cricket brand, which currently offers four lines for $160 a month plus $40 upfront, according to the plan-tracking website WhistleOut. MetroPCS is also offering any of 10 phone models free to users who switch, including the Alcatel Fierce A30, Coolpad Defiant, LG K20 Plus, Motorola Moto e4 and Samsung Galaxy J7 Prime.

The so-called unlimited offer comes with the usual strings attached: Video streaming is capped at 480p; tethering isn’t supported; and customers who exceed 35 GB per month may see their data speeds reduced. Additionally, customers must pay sales tax on free phones.

Like Cricket’s plans, MetroPCS’s offerings include taxes and fees in the monthly statements.

The campaign comes amid increasing competition in a prepaid market that was once an afterthought among most major U.S. carriers. Verizon began to refocus on the prepaid market last year after bleeding customers to AT&T’s Cricket and T-Mobile’s MetroPCS brands. The carrier admittedly opted to view the MVNO TracFone as its de facto prepaid offering, which, crucially, sells service on all four major networks, not just Verizon’s.

Meanwhile, Apple began to pursue the prepaid market more aggressively in 2016, as the market research firm gap intelligence noted in September, and that pursuit has only grown more ambitious over the last year. The iPhone’s prepaid retail channel placements more than doubled from the second quarter of 2016 to the second quarter of 2017, growing from 15 SKUs to 46 SKUs, and they increased 35% from the first quarter of this year to the second quarter, according to fresh data from the San Diego-based firm.