If you’re in Chicago, Philadelphia, St. Louis, or one of the other U.S. cities that can actually get 3G wireless phone coverage from Cricket, you’ll soon be able to get free music downloads with your wireless plan.Cricket is the consumer brand of Leap Wireless, a low-cost cellular provider with about 5 million customers in 35 cities. In January, the company is rolling out a new service called Muve Music. All customers who pay for Cricket’s unlimited text and data plan at $55 per month will also be able to download and listen to an unlimited number of songs per month at no extra charge. The catalogue includes selections from all four major labels, but Cricket refuses to give an exact number of available songs, which probably means there will be some gaps.
The music is stored in a secured flash memory card from SanDisk, and is only available on the phone–users can’t transfer it to a PC. The music becomes unplayable once users stop paying their bill. It will be sold first with the Samsung Suede, which will cost $199.
Cricket is such a small player that it’s hard to imagine that Muve will have much impact, but the service is the first of its kind in the U.S., and other carriers may eventually be tempted to follow. Nokia previously experimented with bundling up to two years of free music downloads with new handsets in Europe, but its Comes With Music initiative didn’t take off and a planned 2010 launch in the U.S. never materialised.
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