Cricket Wireless expands 5G access to all of its prepaid plans

Cricket Wireless has made its 5G service available to all of its subscribers, not just those who sign up for its priciest prepaid phone plan. This expansion represents a big change in 5G availability for those who prefer prepaid, rather than postpaid, cellular services, making it possible to access much faster download speeds while away from Wi-Fi networks.

Consumers have four different prepaid plan options with Cricket Wireless ranging from $30/month to $60/month for a single line. Until now, users had to sign up for the most expensive plan to access Cricket's 5G network. That is no longer the case. Those with cheaper plans can also access the network, though it's subjected to the same data caps for customers who aren't on one of the two unlimited options.

Cricket announced the change on Friday, also revealing that it now has 12.4 million subscribers and its cheaper plans are no longer restricted by its 8Mbps speed cap. The changes come a year after Cricket rolled out its 5G network, which is only available in parts of its overall coverage area. Consumers must own a 5G smartphone to take advantage of the faster network, otherwise, they'll be limited to 4G regardless of their location in the US.

Consumers will get the most features with Cricket's $55/month and $60/month unlimited data plans, the latter of which includes 15GB of mobile hotspot access. The other big difference between the two plans is that the $60/month option doesn't throttle high-speed data when network congestion is high, something that applies to all three of the other plans. Both unlimited options do restrict video streaming over data to 480p standard definition, however.

The $60/month plan tosses in some other perks that may entice consumers to pay the extra five bucks a month, including bundled access to HBO Max's ad-supported plan and 150GB of cloud storage. Overall, many Cricket subscribers are unlikely to notice the change as it requires a 5G-compatible smartphone. However, increased access to prepaid 5G plans is a good thing and will become more relevant in time.