Leap adds free nationwide roaming to Cricket

Mar 23, 2010 By PETER SVENSSON , AP Technology Writer

(AP) -- Leap Wireless International Inc. said Tuesday that it's eliminating most roaming fees for its Cricket contract-free wireless service, continuing a series of price cuts and service enhancements in the growing and competitive prepaid market.

Leap hopes the move will shed some of Cricket's image as a regional service with limited coverage compared with the big national carriers. But to hold down the fees it has to pay for subscribers to access other carriers' networks when traveling, Cricket will still only sign up customers who live where it has its own network, which is mainly in large cities.

Free roaming will cover all major cities and about 90 percent of the U.S. population, Leap said. It will still charge roaming fees for a few areas.

"Our competitors - those that have not been able to match us in a value proposition - have typically sold against us with a nationwide network," said Al Moschner, Leap's .

Leap shares rose 55 cents, or 3.4 percent, to $16.92 in afternoon trading Tuesday.

Cricket has about 5 million subscribers, making it the seventh-largest wireless carrier in the U.S. It targets customers in households making less than $50,000 per year.

With the elimination of roaming fees, Cricket is also simplifying its price plans, cutting its six options down to four. That's something other carriers have been doing recently as well.

Leap is charging $30 per month for a basic plan with unlimited calls. For $40 per month, it adds unlimited texting, , call waiting and other features, roughly matching the price of its closest competitor, MetroPCS Communications Inc.

Bernstein Research analyst Craig Moffett noted that Leap's prices aren't much lower than before. He said it was the first time in a while that a prepaid carrier revamped plans by adding features rather than slashing prices. This could help other carriers keep their prices stable, he said.

Leap and MetroPCS have already offered free roaming to their subscribers on each other's networks. Leap, which is based in San Diego, is now providing free roaming on the networks of carriers with much wider coverage, including Sprint Nextel Corp. and Verizon Wireless.

Sprint has become a big player in prepaid service as well, through its Boost brand. It roiled the market by introducing a $50-per-month unlimited calling plan with nationwide coverage last year.

Prepaid plans don't require a contract, and the phones are typically more expensive than equivalent ones sold with two-year contracts. Prepaid plans and wholesale access, which is also usually offered under prepaid terms, accounted for 72 percent of the net new wireless subscribers in the fourth quarter of 2009, according to Moffett.

Explore further: FX says overnight ratings becoming meaningless

not rated yet
add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Tracfone tests cheap unlimited plan on Verizon

Jul 15, 2009

(AP) -- Tracfone Wireless, the country's largest provider of "prepaid" cell phones, is quietly testing a new service that appears to be a response to the fierce price competition in the prepaid market.

Cut-rate prepaid plans shake up wireless industry

Apr 20, 2009

(AP) -- As wireless carriers start reporting first-quarter results this week, investors will be looking at the effects of some spectacular price cuts for prepaid cell phone service.

Virgin Mobile joins prepaid price war

Apr 09, 2009

(AP) -- Virgin Mobile USA Inc. is set to announce Thursday that it is slashing the price of its unlimited calling plan to $50 from $80 per month, a result of fierce competition and price-cutting among second-tier cellular ...

Sprint Nextel to buy Virgin Mobile USA

Jul 28, 2009

(AP) -- Sprint Nextel Corp. is intensifying its focus on the fast-growing market for prepaid cell phone service with a $483 million deal to buy Virgin Mobile USA Inc.

Recommended for you

FX says overnight ratings becoming meaningless

6 hours ago

(AP)—It's a rite nearly as old as television: the morning after a new show premieres, network executives wait impatiently for the Nielsen company's estimate of how many people watched, and rush to report ...

Verizon launches rewards program with tracking

Jul 21, 2014

Verizon Wireless is launching a nationwide loyalty program this week for its 100-million-plus subscribers. There's a twist, though: To earn points for every dollar spent, subscribers must consent to have their movements tracked ...

Verizon boosts FiOS uploads to match downloads

Jul 21, 2014

Verizon is boosting the upload speeds of nearly all its FiOS connections to match the download speeds, vastly shortening the time it takes for subscribers to send videos and back up their files online.

The goTenna device pitch is No Service, No Problem

Jul 18, 2014

In the new age of Internet-based crowdfunding with special price offers, where startup teams try to push their product closer and closer to the gate of entry, goTenna's campaign offers a most attractive pitch. ...

Maths can make the internet 5-10 times faster

Jul 17, 2014

Mathematical equations can make Internet communication via computer, mobile phone or satellite many times faster and more secure than today. Results with software developed by researchers from Aalborg University ...

User comments : 0