TIME mergers and acquisitions

AT&T Leaps Into Prepaid Wireless Market

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AT&T store on December 31, 2013 in New York City. Ben Hider—Getty Images

The Federal Communications Commission approved the merger of the nation's number two wireless carrier AT&T and prepaid powerhouse Leap Wireless, which runs the Cricket prepaid wireless service

The Federal Communications Commission approved AT&T’s acquisition of Leap Wireless on Thursday. Leap runs the Cricket prepaid wireless service, which has about 5 million subscribers.

With 110 million U.S. subscribers as of the end of 2013, AT&T is the second largest carrier in the U.S. When first announced last July, the merger raised concerns that the acquisition of the popular wireless service could harm public interest. But AT&T has promised to divest spectrum in some markets and to offer low-cost packages comparable to the ones that made Cricket popular. In a SEC filing, it promised prepaid monthly packages for $40 or less for at least a year and a half after the merger.

AT&T’s network currently covers 308 million people across the country, while Leap’s covers 96 million in 35 states, according to ZDNet. The deal will strengthen AT&T’s network capacity in large markets and improve its presence in the growing prepaid market.

[The Verge]

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