AT&T Mobility surprised the market by reporting 625,000 postpaid subscriber net additions in the first quarter, more than analysts had expected and the carrier's best first-quarter postpaid performance in five years.
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.
The following charts the top U.S. wireless carriers in the fourth quarter of 2013 by subscriber base, according to research firm Strategy Analytics, and includes major metrics--such as churn, ARPU and revenue--of each carrier. The subscriber figures include both retail and wholesale customers. As the fourth-quarter reporting season comes to a close, it's time to start parsing the information to see which carriers slipped and which managed to get ahead.
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.
AT&T Mobility bolstered its 700 MHz and AWS spectrum holdings by moving to acquire a handful of licenses from Oregon cable company BendBroadband, and AT&T intends to use the airwaves to add capacity to its LTE networks.