Ina Fried

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Leap Wireless, a.k.a. Cricket, to Offer Prepaid iPhone Starting Next Month

Leap Wireless said on Thursday that it will start offering the iPhone next month, becoming the first prepaid carrier in the U.S. to do so.

The company, which sells service under the brand Cricket, will offer service for $55 a month, including data, texting and calling, though data speeds will be slowed once a user has consumed 2.3 gigabytes of data in a month.

The plans, cheaper than those at traditional carriers, come with a higher upfront cost. Cricket is charging $499.99 for a 16GB iPhone 4S or $399.99 for the 8GB iPhone 4, with both models going on sale June 22. Those prices are still lower than the amount typically charged for an unlocked iPhone, however.

“Our customers want the best products available and we are excited to bring iPhone to our pre-paid consumers with an industry leading $55 per-month service plan,” Leap CEO Doug Hutcheson said in a statement. “Launching iPhone is a major milestone for us and we are proud to offer iPhone customers attractive nationwide coverage, a robust 3G data network and a value-packed, no-contract plan.”

“By making iPhone available on pre-paid plans through Cricket Wireless, we are making the best smartphone more accessible to an even broader market in the US.” Apple spokeswoman Natalie Harrison told AllThingsD.

Leap is investing heavily to be able to make the move. In a filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission on Thursday, the company said it has signed a three-year deal with Apple that requires Leap to buy roughly $900 million worth of devices over three years. The deal begins when the company starts selling the iPhone, and the minimum commitment increases moderately over each year of the deal.

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The problem with the Billionaire Savior phase of the newspaper collapse has always been that billionaires don’t tend to like the kind of authority-questioning journalism that upsets the status quo.

— Ryan Chittum, writing in the Columbia Journalism Review about the promise of Pierre Omidyar’s new media venture with Glenn Greenwald