A high-level AT&T (NYSE: T) executive said that the company is seeing momentum around its Cricket prepaid brand, which it took control of from Leap Communications in a $1.2 billion deal that closed in March 2014. According to John Stephens, senior executive vice president and CFO of AT&T, Cricket now has about 5 million subscribers.
"Cricket is doing well. The churn is coming down," Stephens said, while addressing investors at the Jefferies TMT 2015 conference. "We are nearing a 5 mil customer base and we are very proud of that," he added.
That 5 million mark is significant because that was the total number of subscribers Cricket had when AT&T announced its intention to purchase Leap in July 2013. Leap, citing increased competition from nationwide operators including T-Mobile US (NYSE:TMUS) and its MetroPCS brand, went on to lose 196,000 net customers during the third quarter of 2013 and nearly 92,000 net customers in the fourth quarter of 2013 bringing its total customer base to 4.55 million at the end of 2013.
AT&T has been trying to overcome the losses since its acquisition of Leap was finalized. Last May, the company relaunched the Cricket Wireless brand with new rate plans and a bold new (green) look. In addition, it revamped the 3,000 Cricket retail stores it had nationwide.
The company also is the process of shutting down Leap's legacy CDMA network and converting Cricket customers to AT&T's GSM-based network. The operator has already started shutting down the legacy CDMA network and will complete the process by Sept. 15.
AT&T has also been aggressively going after prepaid customers with Cricket promotions. Last month it introduced a new device financing program that will customers multiple options to get a new smartphone for a low amount of money up front. And late last year the company offered a $100 billing credit to customers who switch from Sprint (NYSE: S), T-Mobile and other carriers.
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