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The Cricket Network


jamesinclair
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So until recently, I thought Cricket was a virtual network, and not an actual one. Woops.

 

I was wondering if anyone here had info about their network....spectrum, amount of towers, data speeds etc. You know, the kind of stuff we talk about for Sprint.

 

NOT interested in discussing phones, plans, customer service etc - just the network. Basically, how their network compares to the big boys.

 

 

(And no, Im not thinking about switching to them, just curious about what they have)

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I roam on Cricket occasionally here in New Mexico. Their EVDO typically runs 200k-600kbps. I've never seen it over 1Mbps. Coverage is horrible. Cricket customers run on Sprint network as native coverage when outside Cricket coverage areas, because Leap has a MVNO agreement with Sprint.

 

Robert via Nexus 7 with Tapatalk HD

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I would like to hear Ian chime in on the Austin assertion because he lives in the area. I could be wrong, but I suspect that he might have a different perspective.

 

AJ

 

He would have to have service from both in order to compare. I had service from both when I worked in Austin from 2007-2009 so I have had some experience on both networks.

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He would have to have service from both in order to compare. I had service from both when I worked in Austin from 2007-2009 so I have had some experience on both networks.

 

Fair enough. But Ian seems quite knowledgeable about most/all carriers in the Austin area. And he has direct experience with many of them. However, I will let him speak for himself if he choose to do so.

 

AJ

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Another interesting observation is that -- if our recently posted market share numbers are accurate -- AT&T, Sprint, VZW, and T-Mobile hold 94.5 percent of the market in Austin. In that case, Cricket has almost no market share and has barely any business case to operate a network in Austin, let alone operate one that supposedly has better coverage than the Sprint network does. I just find that hard to believe, particularly as Sprint has 5-10 times the market share and had roughly a five year head start on build out in Austin.

 

South Texas, I could understand, as that area has far more low income consumers and illegal immigrants who could not pass a Sprint credit check. South Texas is a dream market for a bottom feeder like Cricket.

 

AJ

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Another interesting observation is that -- if our recently posted market share numbers are accurate -- AT&T, Sprint, VZW, and T-Mobile hold 94.5 percent of the market in Austin. In that case, Cricket has almost no market share and has barely any business case to operate a network in Austin, let alone operate one that supposedly has better coverage than the Sprint network does. I just find that hard to believe, particularly as Sprint has 5-10 times the market share and had roughly a five year head start on build out in Austin.

 

South Texas, I could understand, as that area has far more low income consumers and illegal immigrants who could not pass a Sprint credit check. South Texas is a dream market for a bottom feeder like Cricket.

 

AJ

 

Are those numbers for all markets? Which thread is that?

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Are those numbers for all markets? Which thread is that?

 

The initial thread is in the Premier section. Later, when it was revealed that the market share info had already been made public in other forums, it was posted again. But I cannot easily find that second thread.

 

Regardless, the market share data is for the top 50 CMAs as they currently stand, not the top 50 CMAs as they were when the FCC licensed them in the 1980s (and as all FCC considerations still number them). That leads to some market omissions and inclusions. Las Vegas, for example, has jumped from #93 to #25. Meanwhile, decaying Rust Belt cities, such as Providence and Albany, have dropped out of the top 50 CMAs.

 

AJ

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I've noticed around Louisville when I roam on Cricket I get EvDO Rev.0 in Netmonitor, instead of Rev A like I get with Sprint. Data speeds were comparable to Sprint 400-500 kbps.

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The initial thread is in the Premier section. Later, when it was revealed that the market share info had already been made public in other forums, it was posted again. But I cannot easily find that second thread.

 

Regardless, the market share data is for the top 50 CMAs as they currently stand, not the top 50 CMAs as they were when the FCC licensed them in the 1980s (and as all FCC considerations still number them). That leads to some market omissions and inclusions. Las Vegas, for example, has jumped from #93 to #25. Meanwhile, decaying Rust Belt cities, such as Providence and Albany, have dropped out of the top 50 CMAs.

 

AJ

 

It's amazing, to me, the sheer dominance of AT&T in Texas.

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Oh, hi guys...

 

I actually bought an Optimus Regard (MetroPCS calls it the LG Motion 4G) on CricKet around Thanksgiving, and had a chance to test out service in both San Antonio and Austin shortly after both LTE networks went live for CricKet.

 

Thanks to the fact that practically no one was on the network yet (the Galaxy SIII hadn't come out for CricKet yet), I was able to pull 6-7 Mbps in both directions with the phone. I believe latency was in the high thirties to mid forties to Dallas. The lowish speeds are due to CricKet not having much spectrum in Austin (or much of anywhere, really); they were either using 1.4 MHz or 3 MHz LTE carriers at the time, as far as I can guess.

 

I put the phone into LTE only mode (*#*4636#*# works) and noticed that CricKet's LTE fades out about where it says on its map: not far west of MoPac in NW Austin. Go east of MoPac and everything runs at LTE speeds (CricKet does seem to have coverage of Austin down pretty well) but you're dropping down to 1-2 Mbps EvDO if you get too far west.

 

I wasn't the one testing service in San Antonio so I can't speak to coverage there, though speeds were comparable.

 

Honestly, at this point their network in both San Antonio and Austin (and maybe Houston?) is more consistent than Sprint's...if you're in a "covered" area you consistently get LTE, though if you step out of that area you're dropping back to EvDO quickly. Fortunately, on CricKet towers they appear to have upgraded backhaul a bit recently, such that in Fredericksburg I was able to pull a couple Mbps with latency below 100ms...though that latency part has been that way for years (CricKet dumps onto the Internet a lot more quickly than Sprint does backbone-wise).

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Oh, hi guys...

 

I actually bought an Optimus Regard (MetroPCS calls it the LG Motion 4G) on CricKet around Thanksgiving, and had a chance to test out service in both San Antonio and Austin shortly after both LTE networks went live for CricKet.

 

Thanks to the fact that practically no one was on the network yet (the Galaxy SIII hadn't come out for CricKet yet), I was able to pull 6-7 Mbps in both directions with the phone. I believe latency was in the high thirties to mid forties to Dallas. The lowish speeds are due to CricKet not having much spectrum in Austin (or much of anywhere, really); they were either using 1.4 MHz or 3 MHz LTE carriers at the time, as far as I can guess.

 

I put the phone into LTE only mode (*#*4636#*# works) and noticed that CricKet's LTE fades out about where it says on its map: not far west of MoPac in NW Austin. Go east of MoPac and everything runs at LTE speeds (CricKet does seem to have coverage of Austin down pretty well) but you're dropping down to 1-2 Mbps EvDO if you get too far west.

 

I wasn't the one testing service in San Antonio so I can't speak to coverage there, though speeds were comparable.

 

Honestly, at this point their network in both San Antonio and Austin (and maybe Houston?) is more consistent than Sprint's...if you're in a "covered" area you consistently get LTE, though if you step out of that area you're dropping back to EvDO quickly. Fortunately, on CricKet towers they appear to have upgraded backhaul a bit recently, such that in Fredericksburg I was able to pull a couple Mbps with latency below 100ms...though that latency part has been that way for years (CricKet dumps onto the Internet a lot more quickly than Sprint does backbone-wise).

 

I have not tested their LTE, but their voice network in those three areas you mentioned Austin, San Antonio and Houston as well as the areas south of Houston is well built. Where they have coverage, they have good coverage with good site density. I have found the same to be true of Metro after they finish building a market. I would definitely put up Metro's network against Sprint's in the areas they provide service. I wish Sprint would have acquired both companies and used some of their sites.

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A word on CricKet's history in Texas:

 

In 2006, a paging magnate used old AT&T Wireless spectrum (PCS) and Nortel 1x equipment to start a new unlimited carrier in San Antonio: Pocket Communications. Service was actually better than CricKet in San Antonio and northward, at least as far as pure voice coverage went (remember, 1x only for data). I had their service for a few months during this period, spread over three different phones (Kyocera K132 or something...the blue soft-touch flip phone, Audiovox 8910, Motorola v323i), but ended up switching to Virgin Mobile because I didn't need unlimited voice and wanted better coverage.

 

Anyway, for awhile, Pocket did quite well for itself in terms of customer numbers and service provided (in a voice-centric world); I think it ended up with 400,000 customers when it was absorbed by CricKet, with San Antonio being the only big metro that it covered (in addition to Laredo and the Rio Grande Valley, all using 5x5 or so of PCS spectrum). For all of its existence, it attacked CricKet head-on, causing that company to offer more services at a lower price in the San Antonio market (and others where they competed with Pocket) than they did anywhere else. At one point, you could get unlimited local, long distance, text and picture messaging for $25 per month, with $40 per month netting you unlimited everything (plus a roaming allotment if I remember correctly)...well before cheap non-smartphone unlimited plans had made their way out of the likes of CricKet and onto the "big four" stage.

 

In late 2010, CricKet merged Pocket's Texas assets into its own, in return for a 24% stake in the combined company. The buyout gave CricKet PCS spectrum in South Texas markets where only AWS was available to them before, and removed a particularly troublesome competitor in the area, even though CricKet at the time had started deploying EvDO and Pocket was stuck at 1x (remember, Pocket had very little spectrum to work with). Plan prices went up on CricKet relatively shortly thereafter, but the company has gotten better coverage in Pocket's former service area as a result of the buyout.

 

As an aside, I think that Austin (not part of Pocket's service area) has had CricKet service for quite awhile, and the relative lack of urban canyons here means that deploying a coverage-focused network in PCS will simultaneously give you enough capacity for a fair number of users and relatively efficient coverage of a large area. Use less-expensive equipment (e.g. waiting until late 2012 to deploy LTE) and you don't have huge costs to recoup. Same with phones, since CricKet's largest phone subsidy is around $50 (guesstimate, but I think I'm in the right league). So you can stay in the game with a small percentage of a relatively large metro-area market...though you might still lose money nationwide.

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I have not tested their LTE, but their voice network in those three areas you mentioned Austin, San Antonio and Houston as well as the areas south of Houston is well built. Where they have coverage, they have good coverage with good site density. I have found the same to be true of Metro after they finish building a market. I would definitely put up Metro's network against Sprint's in the areas they provide service. I wish Sprint would have acquired both companies and used some of their sites.

 

Yep. Though having enough voice capacity on CricKet is a relatively (five years) recent phenomenon in some areas; from what I hear "circuits busy" still happened at times despite CDMA 1x being a high capacity voice-only tech.

 

I'm also pretty sure that, at least in San Antonio, the Pocket buyout helped CricKet's service quality in the area immensely. Good old Nortel 1x gear for Pocket's entire network...same as Sprint in that area. For the time that I had Pocket, if I could get a decent signal, voice quality was one thing that I could never complain about.

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It's amazing, to me, the sheer dominance of AT&T in Texas.

 

Thanks to the careful "oversight" of the W. Bush era FCC (chaired by Powell and Martin), the Cellular 850 MHz cross ownership rule was removed, and AT&T was allowed to acquire both Cellular A and B block licenses in DFW and Austin. So, no, I am not surprised at all at the results in Texas. That is a failure of pro big business regulators to do their jobs and to see the likely consequences of the actions (or, in this case, inaction).

 

W. Bush from Texas -- shocking, just shocking -- did more to put AT&T nee SBC where it is today than any other, short of maybe Steve Jobs and the damn iPhone.

 

AJ

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Thanks to the careful "oversight" of the W. Bush era FCC (chaired by Powell and Martin), the Cellular 850 MHz cross ownership rule was removed, and AT&T was allowed to acquire both Cellular A and B block licenses in DFW and Austin. So, no, I am not surprised at all at the results in Texas. That is a failure of pro big business regulators to do their jobs and to see the likely consequences of the actions (or, in this case, inactions).

 

AJ

 

On the other hand, it amazes me that Verizon, despite the massive amounts of advertising and a rock solid network has not made more inroads in the Miami/Ft. Lauderdale market. 8% for Verizon, despite the fact that a lot of people moved down from up north. T-Mobile has 15.6% and others (including Metro have 23.6).

Edited by bigsnake49
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On the other hand, it amazes me that Verizon, despite the massive amounts of advertising and a rock solid network has not made more inroads in the Miami/Ft. Lauderdale market. 8% for Verizon, despite the fact that a lot of people moved down from up north. T-Mobile has 15.6% and others (including Metro have 23.6).

 

Not a coincidence. Miami is yet another market in which that FCC "administration" allowed AT&T to gobble up both Cellular 850 MHz licenses. The W. Bush FCC's theory of "free market competition" was flawed from the beginning. I knew it then. I formally opposed it then (filing a Petition to Deny). And I stand vindicated now. Oh, I am so happy, as you can tell.

 

AJ

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Not a coincidence. Miami is yet another market in which that FCC "administration" allowed AT&T to gobble up both Cellular 850 MHz licenses. The W. Bush FCC's theory of "free market competition" was flawed from the beginning. I knew it then. I formally opposed it then (filing a Petition to Deny). And I stand vindicated now. Oh, I am so happy, as you can tell.

 

AJ

 

What a total screwup. It would be nice if VZW could acquire 850 in all markets, but in exchange give up all or almost all of their PCS holdings. Looking forward to your Cellular 850 reconfiguration article very much!

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