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Cricket adds data to its most affordable smartphone plans

And unlimited plans just became decidedly more valuable.

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AT&T's low-cost Cricket brand has historically been somewhat stingy with data unless you've bee willing to pay almost as much as you would for a regular AT&T plan, but it's loosening things up a bit on November 5th. The budget carrier is adding more data to its most affordable smartphone plans and increasing the worth of its unlimited service. To begin with, you now get 2GB of full-speed data on a $30 plan (versus just 1GB before), and 5GB of data instead of 4GB on the $40 plan. That may not sound like much if you're used to watching Netflix on your phone, but it promises to make a big difference if you're keeping your costs down -- you don't have to be quite so cautious about sharing a photo or streaming some music.

As for unlimited service: Cricket is reviving the Unlimited 2 plan, which gives you two lines for $80 per month. For a "limited time," you can add up to four more lines for $25 each. And both solo Unlimited and Unlimited 2 customers can tack on mobile hotspot support for $10 per month.

Just remember that there are catches. Your hotspot access is still capped at 8GB of full-speed use per month. Full LTE speed on Cricket is limited to 8Mbps, and video streams at 480p. You won't be watching 1080p live streams, unfortunately. And like most US carriers, Cricket might de-prioritize your unlimited service if you use more than 22GB in a month on a given line. Consider this, though: if you don't need full performance, you're getting more data with that $30 plan than you would if you signed up for Google's Project Fi.

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