Leap returns to subscriber growth in Q4

Cricket provider Leap Wireless (NASDAQ:LEAP) said it posted positive subscriber numbers for the fourth quarter, an uptick from the third quarter, when it lost a net 200,000 subscribers. However, it did report weakness in its broadband service.

Leap said it added 115,000 net subscribers in the fourth quarter, which is down from the 298,000 it notched in the fourth quarter of 2009. However, the flat-rate carrier also said it brought in 320,000 additional subscribers via the joint venture it established in October with Pocket Communications.

The net additions were comprised of 162,000 voice net adds and a net loss of approximately 48,000 broadband customers, bringing its total net customer additions for 2010 to around 249,000. Leap ended the year with approximately 5.53 million customers.

Additionally, the company said churn for the fourth quarter was 4 percent, an improvement from 4.7 percent in the year-ago period and 5.5 percent in the third quarter of 2010.

"We've improved our handset lineup, we've simplified the product offering," Leap CFO Walter Berger said at a Citi-sponsored investor conference, according to Reuters. "The changes that we're seeing are moving in the right direction."

Leap has been trying to push more into smartphones, keeping pace with flat-rate competitor MetroPCS (NASDAQ:PCS). Leap currently offers two phones running Google's (NASDAQ:GOOG) Android platform, the Kyocera Zio and Huawei Ascend. Leap also offers Research In Motion's (NASDAQ:RIMM) BlackBerry Curve 8530. Leap plans to sell a prepaid Android tablet at some point this year as well.

For more:
- see this release
- see this Reuters article

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