When AT&T acquired Mexican carrier Iusacell last January earlier this year, it promised that it would build the first wireless service network that would service both the United States and Mexico. Now, AT&T continues to make good with that promise by announcing that Cricket Wireless, its prepaid brand, will start making unlimited calls to Mexico available as parts of its standard $50 and $60 plans.
Before AT&T's announcement, Cricket Wireless is already a familiar brand to foreign nationals because of its unlimited text messaging service to 35 countries. In initiating its cross-border network, starting with its own prepaid service appears to be the most logical approach.
As of now, customers can purchase a $5 add-on that offers free calls to landlines based in international areas, or get a $15 add-on that provides a thousand minutes of calls to mobile numbers. But when Cricket's new rates take effect on Wednesday, February 11th, customers under any Cricket plan with 5 gigabytes of data or more will longer be required to pay extra for any calls made to any Mexican landline or wireless number.
To be clear, this is not exactly a two-way US-Mexican mobile network yet -- for now, it only works for those who make calls from the US to Mexico, and not vice versa. If you are thinking of bringing your phone across the border without having to pay high roaming fees, your best option is to get a $10 add-on. But that only offers 100 minutes of calls and 100 text messages monthly which you can use when you are in Mexico.
That may not sound much for now -- after all, AT&T's pan-North American coverage is still in its infancy. But it is definitely a good first step. As the carrier continues to build its cross-border network, users can surely expect a lot of changes in the coming months or years.
AT&T's recent actions certainly suggest that the carrier is dead serious in laying the foundation for a US-Mexican mobile network. In the later part of January, the carrier even stated its intention of acquiring Nextel Mexico, another Mexican wireless carrier.
Of course, building one expansive cross-border network wherein all voice, text and data plans are universally the same is a long shot. Some experts are even doubtful of its chances of happening soon. Even so, AT&T's plans could start loosening up the barriers that restrict easy mobile communications between the US and Mexico.
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