AT&T To Buy Leap Wireless AKA Cricket

Posted by at 6:45 am on July 15, 2013

AT&T and Leap Wireless have reached a deal for AT&T to buy the smaller regional carrier, which operates under the Cricket brand.

AT&T will keep and expand the Cricket brand to additional U.S. cities. The purchase includes all of Leap’s assets, including 3,400 employees, 5 million customers, a CDMA and LTE network, and radio spectrum licenses covering 137 million people. Leap’s LTE technology and mostly PCS (1900 MHz) and AWS (1700 MHz) radio spectrum holdings align with AT&T’s network and LTE phones, which should ease integrating the two networks.

One notable exception is the Lower 700 MHz A-block license for Chicago that Leap recently obtained in a license swap with Verizon Wireless. AT&T will sell that spectrum, since it is not compatible with AT&T’s current phones. When asked, an AT&T spokesman declined to say how and when the Cricket CDMA network would be phased out, saying “we’ll share details of our go-forward plan once the deal closes, which we believe will be 6 to 9 months from now.”

AT&T will pay $15/share for Leap, or about $1.2 billion total. About 30% of Leap shareholders have already agreed to vote in favor of the deal. The deal will be subject to FCC and Department of Justice review.

AT&T tried and failed to buy T-Mobile in 2011, after the government objected. T-Mobile recently completed its purchase of MetroPCS, Cricket’s main direct competitor.

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