Fate of Aio uncertain in wake of AT&T's acquisition of Leap

In the wake of AT&T Mobility's (NYSE:T) $1.2 billion acquisition of Leap Wireless (NASDAQ:LEAP), the fate of the company's newly launched Aio prepaid brand is now uncertain. AT&T has said it plans to keep Leap's Cricket brand and offer Cricket customers access to AT&T's network. Aio launched in May with the goal of targeting those same prepaid customers.

According to AT&T spokesman Brad Burns, AT&T has not yet determined what it will do with the Aio prepaid brand. Burns added that no changes will occur with the Aio brand until the acquisition of Leap is finalized, which is not expected to occur for least another six to nine months.

AT&T launched Aio Wireless in May, promising a simplified, no-contract experience and opening up a new front in the prepaid battle with Verizon Wireless (NYSE:VZ), Sprint Nextel (NYSE:S) and T-Mobile US (NYSE:TMUS).

Aio plans include unlimited voice and messaging as well as unlimited data (speeds throttled after specific thresholds) on AT&T's HSPA+ and LTE networks, and range in price from $35 up to $70.

Aio is currently available in select markets such as Houston, Orlando, Tampa, Jacksonville and Gainesville, Fla., but the company has said that it plans to expand it to additional markets across the country over the next year.

AT&T also has the GoPhone prepaid service that is available nationwide. However, unlike Aio, which is not marketed as an AT&T service, GoPhone is a sub-brand of AT&T.

Last week T-Mobile US CEO John Legere hinted that his company is going to launch a new prepaid offering, called Apollo 15, that would target Leap Wireless' Cricket-branded prepaid customer base.

In an interview with the Wall Street Journal, Legere said that the company will go after Leap's customers with a new prepaid offering. "The best way to think about Apollo 15 is T-Mobile network, T-Mobile devices, Leap customers," Legere said, according to the WSJ.

For its part, T-Mobile acquired Leap rival MetroPCS, and is currently taking the Metro brand to an additional 100 million people. Like AT&T, T-Mobile launched a separate brand--GoSmart Mobile--before it acquired MetroPCS. GoSmart also targets the prepaid segment. T-Mobile said its acquisition of MetroPCS won't affect its GoSmart rollout.

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