AT&T’s acquisition of Leap Wireless was approved by the Federal Communications Commission recently, giving the carrier access to millions of new customers. The deal essentially means AT&T will be able to bolster its own network capacity in larger markets, and also give the carrier a stronger presence in the prepaid market. Leap Wireless currently operates Cricket, which means all of those customers will now have access to an enormous LTE market. AT&T entered into an agreement with Leap Wireless last July pending approval.
The FCC said its involvement was meant to ensure the deal was in the best interest of consumers, saying that AT&T made every concession to accommodate the deal. AT&T said it will divest spectrum in certain markets once the deal is complete, many of which are focus in southwestern markets, where Cricket has a particularly strong presence. LTE service using unused Leap spectrum will also be deployed within the next 12 months. In addition, AT&T has committed to offer certain rate plans to price-conscious customers.
AT&T’s goal all along was not only to bolster its own network, but to make inroads into the low-cost prepaid crowd. Included in the FCC document are the commitments AT&T made to complete the deal, including the agreement to honor existing CDMA roaming, and a feature phone device trade-in program. In all, the acquisition gives AT&T access to spectrum in the PCS and AWS bands covering 137 million people.