updated 08:35 am EST, Wed December 21, 2011
Cricket gets into LTE in Tucson
Cricket became the next US carrier to switch on LTE on Wednesday with a launch in Tucson. Its 4G network is estimated to run about five to ten times faster than its EVDO-based 3G. In an unusual step, Cricket keeps the 5GB cap the same and bases price on speed: a $50 plan provides a more 3G-like 3Mbps, while subscribers need to pay $60 to get 6Mbps.
The first hardware to support the service will be the Huawei Boltz, known elsewhere as the E397. The USB modem lets Macs and Windows PCs get both on to Cricket's 4G bands as well as fall back to EVDO and even 1XRTT. Users get both GPS and a microSDHC card slot for storage.
Expansion is starting slow, with the only other known expansion city so far being neighboring Arizona city Nogales. Cricket eventually plans to jump to more cities as well as offer smartphones and tablets.
With Cricket, four carriers now run LTE networks in the US. MetroPCS was the first by a matter of weeks and was quickly followed by Verizon. AT&T followed several months later. Sprint is due in 2012, but T-Mobile may instead lean on 84Mbps HSPA+ to get LTE-like speeds.