Cricket Wireless is a U.S.-based prepaid wireless service provider owned by AT&T. The company provides affordable mobile plans, a decent selection of mobile devices, a nationwide network, and a Bring Your Own Phone (BYOP) program that enables customers to bring their own compatible devices to Cricket’s services.
When it comes to bringing your phone to Cricket, it’s vital to first determine whether Cricket uses CDMA or GSM cellular technology. Let’s find out!
How to Check if Your Device is Compatible With Cricket Wireless’s Network
If you are planning to switch to Cricket Wireless and you already have a phone that you love and that fits your needs, instead of buying a new Cricket device, you can simply bring your own phone. However, not all devices can be brought to Cricket. Only phones that are carrier-unlocked and compatible with Cricket’s network and services are eligible for the BYOP.
Luckily, there is a simple way to check if your device is compatible with Cricket’s network or not:
- Step 1: Visit Cricket’s official website and go to its BYOP page at cricketwireless.com/prepaid-phones/bring-your-phone.
- Scroll down to the blue frame where it says ‘Check your device’s compatibility.
- Enter your phone’s 15-digit IMEI number in the provided search box and press ‘Check’.
- If you don’t know your device’s IMEI number, you can dial *#06# or find it in your phone’s settings. The provided website offers detailed instructions on how to find your phone’s ID number depending on your phone type. Simply select the device type and you will get the instructions.
- After you key in your IMEI and press ‘Check’, the system will immediately let you know if your phone is compatible or not.
Cricket Wireless and Its Network Technology
Every mobile and wireless service provider must offer a network. The large carriers (such as AT&T, Verizon, and T-Mobile) have their own network infrastructure, while the smaller companies (including Cricket) are so-called mobile virtual network operators (MVNOs) that partner with larger companies to use their network. For instance, Cricket Wireless uses AT&T’s towers and nationwide network.
Now, each carrier uses a different network/cellular technology. America’s largest carriers use either the CDMA technology or the GSM technology. CDMA stands for Code Division Multiple Access and GSM stands for Global System for Mobile communication.
Network or cellular technologies are also referred to as phone bands or frequency bands that support cellular service. They have a large effect on the phone carrier choice and the phone type. If your phone’s band doesn’t match the provider’s band, the device will not be able to work on the provider’s network. Therefore, as you can see, the phone and the company’s cellular technology matters.
Is Cricket Wireless CDMA or GSM?
So, let’s answer the most important question – Is Cricket Wireless CDMA or GSM? Cricket Wireless uses AT&T’s GSM network, as such, it is a GSM provider. This means that Cricket’s network and services are only compatible with mobile devices that support GSM bands.
If you have checked your phone’s compatibility with Cricket at cricketwireless.com/prepaid-phones/bring-your-phone and it turned out not to be compatible, the most common reason is that the device uses a different type of cellular technology that is not compatible with Cricket’s network.
How Does CDMA Work?
As mentioned before, CDMA stands for Code Division Multiple Access. It is a radio network that uses a spread-spectrum technique that enables electromagnetic energy to be spread, which gives a signal with a wider bandwidth. It enables various people on different phones to be multiplexed over the same channel and share a bandwidth of frequencies. With CDMA, voice and data are separated using codes and transmitters with a wide frequency range. Often, more space is assigned for data distribution. It is used by Verizon and Sprint.
How Does GSM Work?
GSM or Global System for Mobiles digitizes and compresses data and transfers it through a channel with two additional streams of user data – each one on its own time slot. It operates at a frequency band of 900 MHz or 1800 MHz. GSM is used by AT&T and T-Mobile and their MVNOs (including Cricket Wireless). It’s also the predominant phone band used in Europe.
Comparison of CDMA and GSM
It’s hard to speak of these two cellular technologies in terms of which one is better. They both are great. The only thing that can be (and often is) an inconvenience is if you have a CDMA device and wish to use it with a GSM network or vice versa.
Both are multiple-access technologies, as such, they enable multiple calls or data connections on one radio channel. While GSM transforms calls into digital data, provides them with a shared channel and time slot, and puts the call back together for the recipient, CDMA encodes each call’s data and all calls are transmitted simultaneously.
GSM is more widely used around the world. It is available in more than 200 countries. CDMA, on the other hand, is mostly used in the United States.
Certain newer phone models are considered dual-band phones and can run on both technologies. If you have one of those, you are unlikely to experience any issues when bringing the phone to any carrier.
Compatibility of CDMA and GSM Devices
CDMA devices are only compatible with CDMA networks (Verizon and its MVNOs), while GSM devices are only compatible with GSM networks (AT&T, T-Mobile, and all of their MVNOs, including Cricket Wireless). Having a CDMA phone and unlocking it won’t help. Even if the device is carrier-unlocked, it will still only be able to connect to a CDMA network.
As Cricket is a GSM network, you must bring a GSM phone, otherwise, the device will be marked as incompatible with Cricket’s services.
Now, how do you know if your phone is GSM or CDMA? Perhaps the simplest way is to visit a carrier’s BYOP page and check your device’s compatibility there. You can also search in your phone’s settings. If your phone has an IMEI number, it uses GSM technology. If, on the other hand, it has a MEID or ESN number, it uses CDMA bands.
Other Factors to Consider When Choosing a Wireless Carrier
If you already have a phone that you wish to keep and are searching for a wireless provider to bring it to, determining whether your phone and the selected provider use the same cellular technology is crucial. You will only be able to bring your phone to the carrier if the device and company both use the same network technology.
However, it is not the only thing you should take into account when choosing a carrier.
You should also consider the following:
- What is the carrier’s network coverage? Check its coverage in your area. See Cricket’s coverage at cricketwireless.com/map.html.
- Is the carrier reliable? Check the carrier’s network and other reviews.
- Visit the carrier’s website to review its plans and prices. Select one that best fits your needs.
- Enquire about the company’s customer service and support. Do they offer sufficient support options and is the team professional and prompt?