AT&T may not have been able to pull off the T-Mobile acquisition a couple years ago, but it had no problem convincing the FCC to let them purchase Leap Wireless, essentially widening their prepaid offering in wireless options for customers. Currently they already own and operate AIO wireless which is now their other prepaid brand, and as of today now that the Leap Wireless deal is completed, they’ll be offering customers a more robust prepaid service going forward.
AT&T won’t be keeping both brands separate, but rather they’ll be rolling AIO into Cricket and keeping the Cricket name. Cricket customers will see some changes once everything is done with, but AIO customers will only see a name change as part of the whole deal. The bad news potentially for Cricket customers in due time, is that with the merger, they’ll end up having to get all new plans and phones. However customers won’t have to be proactive about this until the two companies integrate fully. Some customers will likely be ready for new devices around the time that they’ll be required to switch, but we imagine that others will have new handsets already that aren’t that old and will be less than satisfied with having to get all new equipment.
AT&T nearly might have been shot down a second time for the attempt to purchase another carrier, but they were able to smooth things over and convince the FCC to approve the deal by planning a 4G LTE rollout using Leap Spectrum which covers over 96 million americans. AT&T CEO claims big changes and makes bold statements that they’ll be offering competitive pricing on new plans as well as flexible services, stating that customers and the public should “expect AT&T to be disruptive in the no-contract space.” This marks a huge win for AT&T as it could put them on more of an even playing field with other major carriers T-mobile and Sprint when it comes to prepaid, who already offer their own prepaid wireless brands with MetroPCS, Boost Mobile, and Virgin Mobile. AT&T paid some $1.2 billion for the buy out of Leap Wireless translating to $15 a a share, which the FCC approved just recently in March.