AT&T Buys This iPhone Pre-Paid Carrier

cell phone towerAT&T (NYSE:T) recently announced that it is acquiring Leap Wireless (NASDAQ:LEAP) for $15 per share in cash. The deal includes Cricket, a wholly-owned subsidiary of Leap Wireless. Cricket is most notable for becoming the first pre-paid carrier in the U.S. to offer Apple’s (NASDAQ:AAPL) iPhone last year.

AT&T is acquiring all of Leap’s licenses, network assets, and retail stores in the deal. The telecommunications giant will also further expand its subscriber base by subsuming Leap’s approximately 5 million subscribers. Last summer, Cricket began offering its customers $55 per-month unlimited talk, text, and data plans for the iPhone 4S and iPhone 4. Cricket sold the 16GB iPhone 4S for $499.99 and the iPhone 4 for $399.99.

According to the press release, AT&T will retain the Cricket brand name and expand Cricket’s presence to other U.S. cities. Leap’s network covers approximately 96 million people in 35 U.S. states, including a 4G LTE network that is covering 21 million people. The Cricket brand also operates a 3G CDMA network for pre-paid customers.

AT&T plans to immediately expand its own 4G LTE coverage by using Leap’s unutilized band spectrum. AT&T expects the deal will be finalized in the next six to nine months, pending approval from the Federal Communications Commission and the Department of Justice.

Here’s how Apple finished out the week on Friday.

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