AT&T has announced that the legacy CDMA markets covered by its Cricket unit will be turned off this year, in a three-phase switch-off plan. The process will involve terminating customers’ wireless service on a rolling basis by bill cycle beginning a month prior to the network ‘sunset’ date. For example, customers in the initial ‘sunset markets’ will have their service terminated by bill cycle beginning 15 March 2015 with the CDMA network in those markets being turned off completely on 15 April 2015.
Initial (March/April) sunset markets include: Washington, DC; Little Rock, Fayetteville and Fort Smith (all Arkansas); Wilmington (Delaware); Chicago and Northern Illinois (Illinois); South Bend (Indiana); Baltimore (Maryland); Atlantic City (New Jersey); Buffalo, Rochester and Syracuse (New York) and Philadelphia (Pennsylvania). The second group of markets slated for shutdown in May/June 2015 consists of: Wichita (Kansas); Albuquerque and Las Cruces (New Mexico); Las Vegas (Nevada) and Oklahoma City and Tulsa (Oklahoma).
All other legacy CDMA markets not identified above will be turned off by mid-September 2015. However, AT&T has made a commitment to the California Public Utilities Commission (PUC) that Cricket would remain a federal Lifeline-only eligible telecommunications carrier (ETC) in California and will continue to provide a Lifeline discount to customers within its CDMA service area for an additional 18 months after the mid-September switch-off.
In other news, Cricket Wireless plans to shut down its Muve Music streaming service on 7 February 2015, and starting 31 January will replace it with the rival Deezer service, which will be available to Cricket subscribers for USD6 per month, taxes and fees included. Jennifer Van Buskirk, president of Cricket, noted that the service – first introduced by previous owner Leap Wireless in 2011 – has ‘run its course’.