Well this is good news for AT&T. Today the FCC approved their purchase of Leap Wireless, saying it’s “in the public interest” for this deal to go through. Leap Wireless owns the Cricket Wireless network brand. AT&T had to make some concessions for this deal to go through, though.
Since Cricket operates in south Texas and the southwest, many of those concessions have to deal with that area. Here is what AT&T had to agree to:
- Spectrum divestitures in certain markets, which will help ensure that AT&T’s competitors have access to spectrum.
- Deploy LTE service using unused Leap spectrum within 90 days or 12 months of closing, which will ensure that that spectrum is being deployed and that consumers in the current Leap service areas will benefit from network improvements to AT&T’s advanced 4G network technologies.
- Build out LTE service in six specific markets in south Texas within 18 months, which will ensure that consumers in those markets have access to advanced 4G services.
- Offer certain rate plans targeted to help value-conscious and Lifeline customers.
- Offer a device trade-in credit program and a feature phone device trade-in program to certain Leap customers prior to discontinuing CDMA service in a particular area in order to ensure that Leap customers have future access to wireless service.
- Honor existing CDMA roaming agreements that AT&T is assuming from Leap so long as it operates the CDMA network.
But in having to go through with these concessions, AT&T has gained an edge. They have picked up 5 million new customers and will use Leap’s assets to further build out their network capacity in larger markets. And Cricket customers get access to a much larger LTE network.
AT&T says that they will discontinue the Aio brand and combine that with Cricket Wireless’s own assets. But since Cricket runs on CDMA, the process of integrating their technology and product line will take a few years to finish. But in the meantime, you can still buy Cricket and Aio phones and planes both online and at physical stores AT&T’s Go Phone branding is still around as well.
With all of the concessions in place, this deal sounds great for everyone involved. AT&T gets more customers and bandwidth, and Cricket customers get access to more LTE. If you’re on Cricket or Aio, what do you think of this deal?