Mobile broadband drives Leap's 3Q net adds

Leap Wireless said mobile broadband customers are expected to make up a larger share of Leap's overall customer base over time as the flat-rate operator's mobile broadband business grows rapidly.

Leap added 116,000 net new customers in the third quarter, which included 97,000 net broadband subscriber additions. Leap recently introduced a $50 prepaid broadband plan with a data limit of 10 GB and also expanded its distribution efforts into a number of big-box retailers.

Leap is hoping to use the offering to steal voice customers away from its Tier 1 rivals. About half of Leap's broadband subscribers use another wireless carrier for mobile calling, according to Leap CFO Walter Berger, and the carrier hopes to lure those subscribers once their contracts expire.

"This business will continue to grow at a great pace," he told Dow Jones Newswires in an interview.

Several operators have followed Leap into the prepaid mobile broadband market, but aren't offering plans as cheap as Leap. AT&T Mobility and Verizon Wireless each recently launched prepaid plans with identical pricing: a daily plan for $15 with a cap at 75 MB of usage, a weekly plan for $30 with a cap at 250 MB, and a monthly plan for $50 with a 500 MB cap. Virgin Mobile USA also supports a variety of prepaid mobile broadband plans, including one that offers 1 GB of data usage for $60.

For more:
- see this Dow Jones Newswires article (sub. req.)

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