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Cricket activates Tucson as first LTE market

The Arizona city becomes Cricket's first market to start the transition from 3G to 4G. Cricket also announced a new LTE-capable USB modem.

Cricket Wireless announced today that it has launched its first LTE market by initiating service in Tucson, Ariz.

The move marks the start of the carrier's transition from 3G CDMA to 4G LTE, a process that will take several years. According to a spokesman for Leap Wireless, Cricket's parent company, the LTE service now covers 90 percent of the Tucson market with additional expansion to Nogales, Ariz., scheduled for 2012.

Beginning today, the carrier will offer two options for LTE service. Though each plan delivers up to 5GB of data per month, people who pay $50 per month will get download speeds of up to 3Mbps; customers paying $60 per month will see download speeds of up to 6Mbps.

Though LTE smartphones are yet to come, Cricket also announced a new LTE USB modem today with the Huawei Boltz. The Boltz, priced at $149, will be compatible with not only the carrier's new 4G LTE service, but also its existing 3G (EV-DO) network. Other features include assisted GPS, Windows and Mac compatibility, a MDM9600 processor, and a microSD card slot.