Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Putting on a Low-Cost Disguise

Last year, AT&T and T-Mobile entered a new mode of competition by acquiring some old networks.  Both companies picked up some spectrum, some customers, but more importantly, a way to compete in the low-cost arena without diluting their main brand.

Picking up a Cricket Wireless phone gives you a slick way to get "AT&T Light".  It's AT&T with a, "We'll do what it takes to compete" way to doing business.  The same is true with MetroPCS which gives T-Mobile a chance to push the low end without cheapening the T-Mobile name.  Both services have much to offer including a large selection of phones and competitive plans.  They both even have a Mexico roaming package.

As I drove across eastern New Mexico at Christmas, I noticed that my Straight Talk phone never switched away from "AT&T" instead of the old "Roaming" label it displayed last time (which happened to be GSM supplied by Verizon).  In this case, AT&T has taken over their recently-purchased Plateau Wireless network, eliminating my last objection to going with a single-network product like Cricket.  Of course I won't want to travel across Nebraska until AT&T makes a presence there.

As we dissect each of carrier's offers, the only difference we can find is that Cricket's Mexico add-on gives you 100 minutes for $10 versus MetroPCS's 200 minutes for the same fee.  Both are a great deal since going to Mexico either required a pricey roaming plan or the need to pick up a GoPhone phone or SIM.  Look for reasonable Mexico Data roaming charges in the near future when AT&T acquires their own network in Mexico, which should also give Cricket a leg up.  Chirp-chirp.


Benjamin A said...

It doesn't show it yet on the map but when I went from Denver to Chicago via I76 & I80 in early December I had solid 4G AT&T native service from the split all the way into IL. LTE kicked in about 15 miles West of Grand Island. I confirmed using the diagnostics tools on my phone that I was indeed on AT&T and not Viaero so it is safe to say that they are finally starting to cover rural Nebraska.

Oz Andrews said...

I can believe that you saw that, but I can't figure out how they're doing it. While Viaero has most of the GSM service in the state, they haven't played nice w/AT&T in the past. It could be they have patched things up after they exchanged spectrum in the northern part of the state. For now, the Lincoln, NE AT&T office tells me their own service stops at Ogalla.

Benjamin A said...

I agree that its strange but with AT&T taking over OnStar responsibilities starting with the 2016 models finally put some fire to them getting this area covered. Aside from a 10 mile stretch of EDGE around Big Springs it was 4G or higher all the way.