Cricket's new tiered data plans seem like a model for the industry to us

Chris Ziegler
C. Ziegler|08.03.10

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Cricket's new tiered data plans seem like a model for the industry to us
Here's something we can all agree on: data caps are a bummer, especially now that we've all got smartphones capable of gobbling literally gigabytes a day. Unfortunately, they seem to be a necessary evil in this crazy supply-versus-demand world of capitalism we all call home, particularly in light of the spectrum crunch the FCC keeps warning us about. Or are they? One great band-aid rarely explored by North American carriers is the concept of bandwidth throttling, whereby you don't have a hard cap that results in overage -- instead, you just get slapped with a lower data throughput if you blow past your quota. That's what regional value carrier Cricket is doing with the launch of its new data plans today, offering buckets of 2.5, 5, and 7.5GB for $40, $50, or $60, respectively, at maximum speed on its EV-DO network -- but additionally, the quota is on a rolling 30-day basis, which means you can potentially free up some of that bucket each and every day of the month (depending on your usage patterns). If you exceed your cap, you risk falling down to a lower speed where you "may only be able to do basic email and web browsing." The downside is that this represents a $10 increase in the cost of Cricket's 5GB plan -- and bandwidth throttling still isn't fun, of course -- but at least you can keep using your modem without the dread looming in the back of your mind that you're going get a 20-page bill at month's end.
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