After announcing their plans back in July to purchase Leap Wireless (also known by their subsidiary, Cricket) for $1.19 billion, AT&T’s deal has finally been given the FCC’s seal of approval. The deal doesn’t go completely unchecked, with AT&T agreeing to specific terms and conditions in order to gain access to Leap’s 5 million subscribers.
First off, AT&T will need to share some of their valuable spectrum with competitors in select markets. To ensure Cricket customers also get a little love, AT&T had to promise to deploy LTE service using Cricket’s unused spectrum within “90 days or 12 months” of closing the deal.
AT&T has also agreed to offer new lower-rate plans meant to target Cricket’s “value-conscious” customers (not everyone can afford AT&T’s higher rates). For areas where Leap Wireless’ CDMA network will be discontinued, AT&T will come up with device trade-in programs to ensure Cricket customers aren’t left high-and-dry without wireless service.
The FCC will also be keeping tabs on AT&T, requiring quarterly reports on the status of Leap Wireless customers (as well as all the commitments mentioned above) in order to ensure AT&T is keeping up with their end of the deal.
When all is said and done, AT&T will walk away with an even stronger network in larger markets, while Cricket customers gain access to AT&T’s superior 4G LTE footprint in more areas. Sounds like a win/win, right?