The CDMA handset flashing business is alive and well, according to at least one vendor. Flashtotalk, based in Portland with 45 employees, said it counts a handful of corporate relationships with regional wireless carriers, and is working on an LTE flashing product.
AT&T is poised to complete its acquisition of Cricket provider Leap Wireless and Leap's 4.57 million customers. The transaction is the latest in a long line of consolidation in the wireless industry that has removed players ranging from MetroPCS to Clearwire to Alltel.
AT&T Mobility does not have any current plans to alter or change Cricket provider Leap Wireless' Muve Music service. The FCC just blessed AT&T's takeover of Leap, and along with the 4.57 million total customers Leap had as of Feb. 28, Muve is one of its key assets.
AT&T's acquisition of Leap Wireless and its Cricket brand has now received FCC approval, but it will be a few months before AT&T aggressively promotes what it has dubbed the "new Cricket," according to financial analysts.
Sprint launched a new no-contract offering dubbed "Sprint Prepaid" to go offer the prepaid market, a brand that will stand apart from Sprint's existing Boost Mobile and Virgin Mobile prepaid brands. The brand's introduction comes amid intensifying competition in the no-contract market.
The FCC approved AT&T's acquisition of Leap Wireless, the last hurdle the Tier 1 carrier needed to overcome to gain control of the regional prepaid provider and its Cricket brand. AT&T has vowed to retain the Cricket brand and compete aggressively on price in the prepaid market using the brand.
AT&T CEO Randall Stephenson said that the model that has prevailed in the U.S. wireless industry for years of customers getting subsidized devices in exchange for signing two-year contracts is radically shifting.
Leap Wireless lost nearly 92,000 net customers in the fourth quarter, bringing its total customer base to just 4.55 million at the end of 2013. The prepaid carrier blamed the losses on increasing competition from nationwide operators, particularly T-Mobile US and its MetroPCS brand.
Verizon Wireless reworked the pricing for its prepaid plans by reducing prices but also cutting the amount of data in the plans. The new prepaid plans come weeks after Verizon updated its shared data plans, changing the name of those plans from "Share Everything" to "More Everything" and increasing the data allotments for some plans.
Leap Wireless lost customers and reported lower revenue for the third quarter, though its customer defections were fewer than it had in the year-ago period. The flat-rate carrier, which operates the Cricket brand, is in the process of being acquired by AT&T, making its third-quarter report likely one of its last as an independent company.