Cricket to launch LTE in Tucson later this year

Leap Wireless' (NASDAQ:LEAP) Cricket subsidiary will launch its first LTE market in Tucson, Ariz., and the company's first LTE device will be a USB modem from Huawei, according to a top executive.

The service will launch sometime in the second half of the year, Matt Stoiber, Crciket's vice president of devices, told PC Magazine. Cricket spokesman Greg Lund declined to confirm the details in the report, other than to say that Cricket will have a commercial test market live by year-end with more LTE activity planned for 2012. He also declined to discuss Cricket's LTE pricing or device vendors.

Cricket's LTE plans have been slowly taking shape over the past few months. Leap inked a long-term LTE roaming deal with troubled wholesale LTE provider LightSquared in late March. The deal will allow the company to supplement its LTE network with roaming on LightSquared's network. However, the roaming agreement is not exclusive, which means that Cricket could potentially partner with another carrier, including rival MetroPCS (NYSE:PCS), which currently provides LTE service in its 14 core markets.

It appears Cricket will take a different approach to LTE than MetroPCS, at least initially. According to the PC Magazine report, Cricket's first LTE device will be a dual-mode Huawei E397 modem. MetroPCS' first LTE devices have been handsets.

For more:
- see this PC Magazine article

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