AT&T's acquisition of Leap Wireless receives FCC approval

Alex Wagner
Editorial Director of News and Content from Omaha, NE
Published: March 13, 2014

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AT&T surprised quite a few mobile industry watchers last year when it announced that it had agreed to acquire Leap Wireless, owner of prepaid carrier Cricket Wireless, a move that AT&T made in order to help grow the capacity and performance of its LTE network. The deal was given the green light by Leap's shareholders a few months later, but we haven't heard much about the transaction recently. Well that's changing today, because the AT&T-Leap agreement just took one giant step toward completion.

The FCC today announced that it has approved AT&T's proposed acquisition of Leap Wireless. The agency isn't just letting the deal slide though, though, as it is making AT&T agree to meet certain conditions before it can officially snap up Leap. Those include:

  • Divest certain markets in south Texas
  • Deploy LTE on Leap's unused AWS-1 and PCS spectrum
  • Roll out LTE in several Texas markets, including Corpus Christi and Laredo
  • Continue to offer Cricket's existing prepaid service to current customers for 4 years and new customers for 2 years as well asĀ some new low-cost rate plans
  • Offer a trade-in program to allow existing Cricket customers to hand in their device for a new one or a credit to be used toward another phone
  • Honor Cricket's current CDMA roaming agreements for as long as it continues to operate that network
  • Sell Leap's ownership of Flat Wireless unless Leap is able to sell the portion itself before AT&T's purchase is completed

Neither AT&T nor Leap Wireless have issued an official statement regarding the FCC's approval yet, but I'm sure that both operators are pretty pleased to see their deal moving forward. As I mentioned before, the transaction gained approval from Leap's shareholders in late 2013, so gaining the A-OK from the FCC brings the deal much closer to completion.

AT&T and Leap have previously said that they expect the transaction to close in early 2014. When it does, AT&T plans to keep the Cricket brand around and expand it to new markets while simultaneously using Leap's spectrum to build out its LTE service. While we wait for more details regarding the agreement to come out, you can peruse the FCC's entire document explaining its approval at the appropriate link below.

Via PhoneScoop, FCC