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Cricket announces 8 new LTE markets, 2 LTE smartphones, and 3 LTE rate plans

It was a big day for Cricket and its LTE rollout. The company made many new announcements that will affect customers starting immediately. The new markets include Philadelpha, Phoenix, Houston, San Antonio, Austin, Laredo, Corpus Christi, and Brownsville-McAllen-Harlingen (Texas). Those markets are available now, in addition to the existing Las Vegas and Tuscon networks. Cricket also announced two LTE smartphones, one we knew of and one big surprise.

We have already heard that Cricket would release the LG Optimus Regard, and they indeed announced that handset. It is now available for $250. Yet the other handset might be a bigger deal: The Samsung Galaxy S III. That won’t be available until November 23, and will cost $550 upon release. But it’s still a big win for Cricket to land one of the top smartphones, if not the top smartphone, on the market. The only downside is that Muve Music will not be available on either handset right now. Cricket says it will become available on both at a later date.

Finally, Cricket announced the availability of three LTE plans, all of which come with Cricket’s signature unlimited talk and text. The $50 plan offers 2GB of 3G/4G data, the $60 plan offers 5GB, and the $70 plan offers 10GB. These rates are double the normal full-speed data allotment, and are only available for a limited time.

Any customers in any of the LTE markets can go to Cricket’s website to select a handset and LTE monthly plan.